The registration of this \york has
not heen possible. The copl^ ^"^wv^
4f^ therefore passed to the Order Di-
vision for filing on the shelves of
the Libray of Congress.
WILLIAM E. W. YERBY.
William Edward Wadsworth Yerby
Montgomery, Ala. :
The Paragon Press
Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1908, by
Wm. E. W. Yerby, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at
Copy right Office.
MK i . 1911
THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY
^0 tfjc iWemorp of tfje Ancient jTorefatfterjl: —
TO THE PRESENT CITIZENS OF GREENSBORO, ALABAMA,
TO THE SUCCEEDING GENERATION.
For some years past the author has purposed writing a His-
tory of Greensboro, Alabama, and has devoted much time and
labor to gathering and verifying data, with that end in view.
The facts relative to the early history of the town were obtained
from the late Henry Watson, Esq., for a long period a citizen
of this place, but who, soon after the close of the war between
the States, moved to Northampton, Mass., where he died sev-
eral years since. He was a gentleman who took more than a
passing interest in events, and made notes of all important occur-
rences concerning the town. He kindly favored the author of
these lines with the notes he had taken during his residence here.
From the late Col. John G. Harvey, the late Samuel G. Briggs,
Col. George Erwin and Mr. Robert B. Waller much valuable in-
formation was derived. Various other sources were laid under
tribute — files of old newspapers, ancient records, and interviews
with old citizens. Of course, much of the more recent history
of the town is from personal knowledge.
These pages have not been penned with any hope of reaping
pecuniary reward, but because of a sincere desire to preserve the
histoiy of the author's native town in a more tangible form than
the mere recollection of its citizens.
The attention of the reader is especially directed to the fact
that the book does not purport to be biographical in its character,
and in all cases — except in a few rare instances — the "personal"'
is eschewed. Men are dealt with only as they are, or have been,,
connected with some particular incident or institution.
Greensboro, Alabama, April 1908.
Table of Contents
GREENSBORO, ALABAMA^Early Settlement— Russell's Ride—
• Names of First Settlers — Greensboro First Known as Troy —
Log Huts as Residences — Coming of the Preachers — Who
They Were— First Mail Brought From Cahaba by S. G.
Briggs-^Appearance of This Section in the Early Days.
Page 1 — 6
FIRST HOUSES— Built by John Nelson Silas Baggett and others
— Where Located — The Jackson Road — To New York on
Horseback — Location of Troy Changed-<^Original Survey — ■
Village Known as Troy Until 1823— Rapid Growth of Town
■ — Character of Buildings — First Lawyers — Ezekiel Pickens,
John Erwin and W. C. Chapman — Manner of Travel-r-How
Merchandise Was Brought to Greensboro — Col. John G.
Hai"vey — His Trip to New York on Horseback — Financial
Crisis of 1825 and 1837— Effect on Business— How a Wife-
Beater Was Made to Mend Mis Ways — Rode Him on a
Rail Page 7—13
THE PASSING OF TROY— First Charter for Greensboro— Horse
Racing — How It Was Broken Up — Lapse of Charter — Re-
vived in January, 1832 — Powers Granted — Corporate
Limits — McAlpine Addition — Original Notice of Sale of
Lots — Early Social Life — Influence of the French Upon
Society — J. J. Cluis, Aide to Famous Marshal Lefebvre, a
Hotel Keeper in Greensboro — Character of Entertain-
ments Page 14 — 19
TABLE OF CONTENTS ix
WEST GREENSBORO— The Old Red House— Yet in Existences-
Cutting Down of a Tree Occasion of Intendant Being Hung
in Effigy — Amendment of Charter — Building of Callaboose
— Hale County's Jail a Present From Greensboro — Old Mar-
ket House — Act Incorporating Southern University —
Whiskey Forbidden to be Sold in Certain Territory — Entire
County of Hale Became Prohibition Territory January, 1887
— Extension of Corporate Limits — Extent of Present Cor-
porate Limits Page 20 — 24
^ GINNING AND MARKETING COTTON— Shipping Point— Sport
in the Old Days— Tragedy in 1833— Killing of Dr. Hellen.
, Page 25—28
/ DIVISION OF GREENSBORO IN EARLY YEARS— The White
Settlement — The Black Settlement — Dogsboro — Territory
Embraced in Each — Gambling and Horse-Racing Common
Amusements — Princely Gambling — A Thrilling Story of a
Game in Which $60,000 Was to be Won or Lost at a Single
Throw of the Dice Page 29—35
y NEWSPAPERS— First Paper— The Halcyon— Extract From Is-
sue of April, 1824 — The Patriot — No Personal Mention in
Papers of That Period — Lady's Name Only Appeared in
Print Twice. When She Married and When She Died— The
Greene County Sentinel — The Alabama Beacon — The Ala-
bama Republican — The Beacon Light of Liberty — The
Greene County Gazette — The Greensboro Watchman — The
Greensboro Record — Recapitulation Page 36 — 41
X HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
THE GREENSBORO GUARDS— Complete List of Original Com-
pany—Left Greensboro May 1st, 1861— Col. Allen C.
Jones — Officers in the War From Greensboro and Hale
County — Company of Boys Organized in 1864 — Those Who
Composed Company — After the War — The Women of the
Confederacy — Their Devotion and Sacrifices in Behalf of the
Cause — Mexican War Veterans Page 42 — 50
THRILLING INCIDENT OF RECONSTRUCTION PERIOD—
Federal Soldier Killed by "Tood" Cowin — Another Wounded
by Tom Cowin — Escape of "Tood Cowin" — Reign of Pande-
monium — Greensboro at the Mercy of Maddened Federal
Troops — Timely Arrival of Colonel of the Regiment — Atti-
tude of Present Generation to the Union Page 51 — 60
THE KU KLUX KLAN — Organized as Answer to Loyal League —
First Notice of Appearance in Greensboro — Efforts of Fed-
eral Government to Disband the Organization — What the
Ku Klux Accomplished Page 61 — 64
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS— First Was Completed March,
1872 — Cost $204.50 — Account of Dedication — Second Mon-
ument — Completed April, 1904 — Cost About $1500 — Loca-
tion — Dedicatoiy Exei-cises Page 65 — 68
RAILROAD — Projected by Gen. N. B. Forrest^Greensboro Issued
$15,000 in Bonds to Aid in Construction — Hale County Is-
sued $60,000 For Like Purpose — Completed to Greensboro
November, 1870 — Event Celebrated by Barbecue and Speak-
ing — Gen. Forrest Present — Completed to Akron in 1882 —
Gen. N. B. Forrest — Personal Appearance — An Amusing
Incident in Connection with the Signing of the Hale County
Railroad Bonds — The Judge "Yanked" From the Bench by
the General — Daring Cavalry Leader — Conduct at Ebenezer
Church — Several Greensboro Men Members of Forrest Cav-
alry Page 69—72
TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
BANKS — Planters Insurance Company — Organization and Offi-
cers — D. F. McCrary — A. Lawson — J. B. Coleman — M.
Jones & Son — Shelby W. Chadwick — Bank of Greensboro —
Lee M. Otts — First National Bank — People's Bank.
COTTON WAREHOUSES— First Established— Second Built
From Materials From Old Nelson Mansion — Its Destruc-
tion by Fire — Third Building Page 72 — 77
GREENSBORO FEMALE ACADEMY— Trustees— Building En-
larged — Incorporation — Presidents — Title to Property
Vested in Trustees — Closed in 1900 — Greensboro Graded
School Using Building Page 78 — 80
FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL— Taught by M. H. Yerby— Location of
School House in 1869— List of Pupils Enrolled For That
Year— Old House Still Standing Page 80—83
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY— Founding of School— First Board
of Trustees — Endowment — Laying of Corner Stone in 1857
— First Session Opened 1859 — Dark Days — The Renaisance
—List of Presidents — List of Faculty Page 85 — 90
CHURCHES— Methodist Episcopal, South— Baptist— St. Paul's
Episcopal — Presbyterian — History of Each From Founda-
tion Page 91—105
LODGES— Masonic, Washington No. 17— Lafayette No. 26— Royal
Arch Chapter — Phoenix No. 11 — Phoenix No. 121 — Knights
of Pythias, Eureka No. 29— Odd Fellows, Lodge No. 11.
xii HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
MODERN GREENSBORO— J. A. Blunt— First Houses Built Af-
ter the War — First Brick Store — Lewis Lawson — Richard
Andrews-— Effects of Birmingham Boom of 1886-87 — Steady
and Substantial Growth Page 117 — 123
WATER WORKS— First Water Supply— The Old Wells— First
Steps Towards Getting Artesian Water — Charles E. Waller
—Establishment of Water Works Page 125—127
' ELECTRIC LIGHTS— When and by Whom Established— Present
Ownership — Artesian Wells Page 127 — 128
) FIRE COMPANIES— First Organization— List of Members.
COURT HOUSE AND JAIL— Creation of Hale County— Vote on
" Location of Court House — Old Salem Baptist Church — New
Court House — Bond Issues — Contract Let — First Session of
Court Held in New Building April, 1908 Page 133—136
, GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS— Many Scattered Graves— Dead
of Troy — The May Graveyard — Burial Place of General
Patrick May — His Bravery in the War With Indians — A Ro-
mance — Old Stokes Graveyard — Much Bad Feeling Over Re-
moval of Burial Site Page 136—142
CLIMATOLOGY OF GREENSBORO— Situation— Elevation-
Weather Obsei-vers — Record Began in 1855 — Average Tem-
pei-atures — Rainfall — Table Showing Annual Fall For
Thirty-Five Years— The Moundville Cyclone. Page 143—146
TABLE OF CONTENTS xiii
YELLOW FEVER— Death of a Number of Excellent Citizens-
Names of Those Who Died That Year Page 147 — 148
A TRIPLE MURDER— The Murder of John A. Singley and
Family — Most Shocking Tragedy in History of the
County - Page 148—154
POSTOFFICE— First Established in 1818— List of Postmasters-
First Money Order Issued — Rural Free Delivery — Hatch-
Sanborn Incident — Truth Stranger Then Fiction — How An
Innocent Person Came Near Being Made to Suffer for the
Guilty — Dangers in Circumstantial Evidence — Celebrated
Case Page 155—163
GOVERNORS OF ALABAMA— Greensboro Has Furnished Three
— Israel Pickens, John Gayle, Thomas Seay — Other State
Officials — Convict Inspector, Wm. D. Lee — Railroad Com-
missioner, Wiley C. Tunstall Page 164 — 165
PROMINENT LAWYERS— Some of Those Who Formerly Resid-
ed in Greensboro Page 166
RICHMOND PEARSON HOBSON— His Remarkable Career.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES— Some of the Citizens Who Have
Passed the Allotted Three Score and Ten Years— Mrs. M.
D. Lightfoot— Mrs. M. L. Nutling— Mrs. Eliza A. Tunstall
—Mrs. S. A. Kimbrough— Mrs. Mary J. Happel— Mrs. Mary
W. Wadsworth— Mrs. Margaret C. Gulley— Mrs. Elizabeth
Ward — Dr. R. H. Cobbs— Hon. George Erwin— Mrs. M. C
Keady— Rev. E. M. Turner— Thomas F. Stickney — The
Famous Marshal Lefebvre — Wm. A. Avery — Thos. J. Kin-
naird — John M. Croom — Names of a Number of Peo-
ple Who Formerly Resided in Greensboro Page 172 — 187
xiv HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
CHAPTER OF MISCELLANIES— Mention of Many Things of
Interest — Mayors — Marshals — Night Watchmen — Accidental
Killing — Physicians — Population — Burning of Greene Coun-
ty Court House — First Ribbon Cane — First Appearance of
English Sparrows — Cotton Worms — First United States
Flag After the War— Practical Joke of the Old Days— Tel-
ephones — Telegraph Lines — Authors — Nut Grass — Dr. R. C.
Randolph — Planters — Cherted Street — Cotton Oil Mill —
Public Halls— Conclusion 188 — 200
List of Illustrations
Andrews, Allen S 87
Artesian Well 129
Baptist Church 96
Blunt, Jeffries A 116
Cahaba, Old Site of 5
Chilton, Rev. Thomas 97
Cobbs, Richard Hooker 177
Confederate Monument, (old) 15
Confederate Monument, (new) 65
Court House, (new) 132
Court House, (old) 135
Dorman Block 119
Episcopal Church 101
Erwin, John 10
Female Academy 78
Forrest Nathaniel Bedford 70
Gayle, John 164
Greensboro Hotel 60
Hale Col. Stephen F 133
Harvey, John Gaillord 36
Hobson, Richmond Pearson 167
Jones, Allen C 12
Lightfoot, Mrs. M. D 172
Methodist Church 106
Main Street, View Looking East 146
Main Street, View Looking West 118
Moore Sydenham 45
Oldest Building 20
Old Store Building on Main Street 53
Old Graveyard of French Refugees 142
Old Public School House 82
Old Singley Bam 150
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xvi
Opera House Block 119
Peck, Frederick, Tomb of 137
Peterson, Francis Marion 189
P/esbyterian Church 103
Residence of late John A. Singley 152
Residence of the Author 124
Seay, Thomas 165
Southern University - 84
Spinning Wheel 199
Stokes, Graveyard, View of 140
Waller, Charles E 126
Ward, Dr. Thomas R 112
Watson, Henry 74
Webb, James D 50
Yerby, Wm. E. W Frontispiece
GREENSBORO, ALABAMA— EARLY
It was in the year 1816 that the first settlements were
made in and around what is now known as Greensboro,
Alabama. The pioneers came from Georgia, Tennessee,
Kentucky, North and South Carolina.
Andrew, Caleb and Isaac Russell, three brothers, came
from Baldwin county, Georgia, in 1816, and located some
three to four miles east of the present court house, on
the Marion road, and so far as can be ascertained, were
the first white people to settle in this immediate section.
Caleb and Isaac Russell resided here for a few years, and
then moved to Big Black, Miss. Andrew Russell remain-
ed after the removal of his brothers, but in a year or two
removed, with his large family of children, to near Prov-
idence church in Perry county. The place near Greens-
boro where the Russells first located was for many years
known as "Russell's Ridge."
It was also in the year 1816 that John Herran settled
three miles south of the present town, near the 'Tick-
ens Place," now owned by L. J. Lawson. He died in
Newbern, Ala., in October, 1894, at the age of 86 years,
and was buried in the Herran graveyard, situated near
the spot where he first located in 1816.
2 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
The next year — 1817 — a number of others took up
their abode in and around the present corporate limits
of the town, among them being Frederick Peck, Edwin
Peck, Anthony Kinard, Joseph Nail, Joseph Middle-
brooks, William Lovell, Louis Stephens, Lawrence Carr,
Benjamin Baldwin, James Yeates, Jason Candy, Shelby
Cozine, Silas Baggett, M. Kinard, Messrs. Bennett, Davis,
McConnico, Hopkins, Caldwell and Holifield.
These early settlers soon built up a small village
near where the Southern University now stands, to which
they gave the name of Troy. Jason Candy was the first
merchant in the new village, or in fact, in the county of
Greene. He is the same Candy that established the for-
merly well known "Candy's Landing" on the Warrior
Frederick and Edwin Peck were among the earliest
merchants of Troy, and became, in the after years, quite
wealthy and prominent citizens of this section. The Pecks
were for a long while residents of Greensboro. The fam-
ily graveyard is near the former home of Frederick Peck
— the lot now owned and occupied by Mrs. W. W\ Powers.
John and Peter Stokes were also among the earlier
settlers. They resided near the Murphy place on Tusca-
loosa street, and owned hundreds of acres of land in that
In these early times the country in and around Greens-
boro was an unbroken forest of primeval oaks, hickory,
chestnut and pine. Caldwell creek was a large and beau-
tiful stream, whose waters afforded abundant fish to all
who cared to catch them. Game was plentiful — there be-
ing numbers of deer, an occasional bear, wild turkeys,
and birds of all kinds. Indians frequently passed through
this section. In fact, to the north, where Havana is now
located, the then forest covered hills were still in pos-
session of the savages, and large numbers of them re-
sided there for several years after the settlement of
COMING OF THE PREACHERS 3
The low places to be seen in and around the Greensboro
of today — the depressions on Tuscaloosa street, the one
where is now located the water works, and the one west
of the colored Baptist church — were extensive reed
brakes, into which cattle frequently went never to come
out alive, on account of the boggy nature of the soil. The
reed brake extended as far up as Main street from the
depression in the rear of the Moore buildings.
The early settlers went industriously to work to erect
houses in which to live. To be sure they were very rude
affairs — typical log huts — and as for furniture, they had
none — only that they made themselves. For bedsteads
they bored holes in the logs of their cabins, into which
were driven pieces of wood, across which boards were
laid ; a three-legged stool for each member of the family,
and a high bench for a table was the sum total of the
furnishings for the houses. However, the inhabitants
seemed contented and happy, and labored industriously
to clear off the ground to make room for the crops they
were to plant. The soil was rich and responded gener-
ously even to the rude cultivation given it, and large crops
of grain were made each year. Cotton was not much
of a commodity and the farmers gave but small atten-
tion to its cultivation. Cattle raising was quite exten-
sively engaged in. They had but little money in those
early years, but all had the necessities of life, and barter
of the products of the soil largely took the place of ready
Coming of the Preachers.
It was then, even as now. The Methodist and Bap-
tist preachers followed in the wake of all settlements,
no matter how remote from the throbbing pulse of the
great outside world. The first sermon ever preached in
Greene (now Hale) county, was in the year 1818, at the
4 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
town of Troy. In that year the Rev. James Monette, a
Methodist minister, cultivated a crop and preached to the
inhabitants of Troy. The next year he moved to Erie,
and his house in that village was used as a place of wor-
ship for some years. Rev. Robert Payne — afterward
Bishop Payne — filled regular appointments there, as he
did also at the house of Capt. Edward Clement in Greens-
boro in 1820, at which time there was no church edifice
in the town.
Close in the footsteps of the Methodist ministers came
the Baptists. The Rev. Joseph Ryan, a Baptist preacher,
settled in Troy, and was the first Baptist preacher to come
to this portion of Alabama. He founded the Baptist
church at Greensboro, which was located in the eastern
part of the present town, very near where stands the
residence of Mrs. Walker, at the forks of the Marion and
Newbern public roads.
The Presbyterians and Episcopalians came later on.
The first sermon preached in Greensboro by a Presbyte-
rian minister was in 1822, by a Mr. Hunter. The same
year the Rev. James Hillhouse of South Carolina, de-
livered his first sermon here, and established the present
Presbyterian church, which was located near the Greens-
boro Graded School building. He died several years af-
terwards, and was buried in the Stokes graveyard in the
northern suburbs of the town. His grave may yet be
seen, as the tombstone is in an excellent state of preser-
In 1833, the Episcopalians met and selected St. Paul's,
Greensboro, as the name of the Parish, but it was not
until 1840 that it was duly incorporated. The Rev. Caleb
S. Ives was connected with the church at this place as
early as 1834, and preached in the Presbyterian church.
He was followed in 1837 by the Rev. J. S. Goodman, who
in turn, was succeeded in 1842, by Rev. Julian Sawyer.
THE FIRST MAIL 5
More extended notices of the various churches will be
found elsewhere in this volume.
The First Mail.
The first United States mail ever received in Troy was
brought from Cahaba, the former capital of Alabama,
which was at one time a flourishing city with splendid
buildings of brick and stone, fronted by yards filled with
choicest flowers, and possessing a citizenship of wealth
and culture. But the old town is now only a heap of
ruins, and in February, 1894, the site was sold in Selma,
under a tax sale, and was bid in by an ex-slave for $550.00.
THE SITE OF OLD CAHABA.
The Capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1826. The house shown in
the picture is the only one left standing of the great number
of magnificent structures formerly in the Capital City. It was
from this point that the first mail was brought to Greensboro;
and it was also from Cahaba that the Greensboro merchants
of the old days hauled their goods.
The first mail was brought to Troy in 1818, by Samuel
G. Briggs on horseback, and was opened in the store of
Frederick Peck, the first postmaster, on the 3rd day of
September. The arrival of the mail was quite an event in
the history of the little village. It had been carried to
Cahaba on a barge from Blakely. The trip by the pioneer
mail-rider was not unattended by dangers as he journeyed
6 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
alone through the dense forest for half a hundred miles.
Mr. Briggs resided in Greensboro from its foundation to
the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 12, 1895,
at the age of 82 years.
The first house erected in what is now Greensboro was
in the year 1818, and was built by John Nelson. It was
a one-room log structure, and was situated nearly oppo-
site the store of E. A. Powers & Sons on Main street.
In this small house Mr. Nelson, for about a year, sold
powder, shot, whiskey, tobacco, etc. In January, 1819,
he sold out to Wm. Lovell, and settled on forty acres of
land on the place south of Greensboro known as Midway,
and engaged in farming. He continued to purchase the
rich prairie lands and, at his death in 1856, he was very
wealthy, leaving property valued at over half a million
dollars. He is buried in the graveyard on the Jenkins
place, three miles west of town, near the public road.
Mr. Nelson has a number of descendants in this section.
He was a man of great common sense and business saga-
In 1819, several other houses were erected in Greens-
boro — one by Silas Baggett on the lot where the Presby-
terian church now stands. He used it as a wheelwright
shop, and kept the rockaways and wagons in repair.
The same year, Mr. Whitehead built a small log house
near where the First National Bank now does business.
This house was used as a general merchandise store.
There was another store near the Andrew Pickens
place, several miles to the south of the village, kept by
Jason Candy, where he did a thriving business trading
with the Indians on the Jackson road — a road cut out
by the troops under Andrew Jackson when on their way
8 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
to St. Stephens to quell the disturbances with Indians.
There is a spring on the Rabb tract, a mile or two east
of Greensboro, where it is said Gen, Jackson camped for
a short while when on the mission noted above.
The next house in the present Greensboro was a log
structure built by Frederick Peck on the site where now
stands the two story brick building occupied by George
Findlay and The Watchman office, and in this log struc-
ture Peck sold groceries and dry goods for several years.
He annually went to New York City on horse back to
purchase his stock of goods. For three successive sea-
sons he made this long journey of over a thousand miles
on the same horse.
In 1819 Alabama was admitted into the Union, and
soon after its admission the inhabitants of the village of
Troy were forced to move their place of residence, be-
cause of the fact that their town was situated on the six-
teenth section, which, by Act of Congress, was reserved
to every State for the benefit of the public schools.
The people gathered together all their belongings that
could be moved, and located in Greensboro, or rather
where the town is now situated, for the new location
continued to be known as Troy until the year 1823. The
original plot of "new" Troy was made in 1820 by McAl-
pine, surveyor, and is recorded in Book "I", page 141,
Record of Deeds for Hale county.
The citizens of Troy did not regret to abandon the old
town, for the horse jockeys had taken the main street
for a race course; whiskey shops, or "doggeries" as they
were called in those days, were numerous, and drunken-
ness and rowdyism were very common, and life was made
miserable to the more respectable portion of the com-
In 1820 a shoe-shop was the only thing located on the
lot on which is now situated Dr. Carson's residence and
sanitarium, and deGraffenried & Evins' law office. It was
a small frame building in which James Yeaies resided
THE FIRST LAWYERS 9
and repaired the footwear of the inhabitants of the lit-
The same year (1820) Samuel G. Briggs located in
"new" Troy and opened a hotel in a small house that
stood where Thomas H. Jones' residence is located. Just
across the street from him was a tailor's shop kept by
a man named Clark.
Troy seems to have grown rapidly at this period, for
at the beginning of 1821, the number of stores had in-
creased to five. Malone and Lake kept one on the lot
immediately west of the First National Bank; Blanton
and McAlpine had a bar room on a part of the present
hotel lot; William Lovell also conducted a saloon on the
east corner of the Dorman block; Frederick Peck, as be-
fore noted kept a general store on the lot where stands
the two-story building formerly known as the Shackel-
ford building; and J. A. Wemyss kept a stock of goods in
a store where the Greensboro hotel now stands. Absa-
lom Alston had a hotel on the lot where the M. D. L.
Moore stores are located ; Miles Johnson also conducted a
hotel in a frame house located on the Dr. Peterson resi-
dence lot, and still another was located on the present
court house lot, and was conducted by Edward Clement.
The buildings in which these men of a past generation
did business were very rude aff:'airs — most of them being
constructed of logs, the cracks being "chinked" with
m.ud — and those in which lumber or plank was used were
considered fine structures. The passage of more than
three-quarters of a century has wrought wonders, for
where stood the extremely modest homes and business
houses of the ancient forefathers are now to be found
splendid buildings of brick, and homes of the most beau-
tiful architectural type.
The First Lawyers.
In 1822, Ezekiel Pickens opened the first law office in
the village in a house that stood on the present Dugger
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
old homestead lot. The second was opened the same
year by W. C. Chapman near where the Steinhart Gro-
cery store is located. The latter part of the same year,
John Erwin came from Kentucky and located. He re-
sided first in a log house situated on the lot in the rear
HON. JOHN ERWiN,
Who came to Greensboro in 1818, whei-e he resided until his death
in 1860. He was among the most able lawyers in Alabama
and took a very prominent part in the Secession Convention.
of the Greensboro hotel, and opened a law office in a room
near where stands the building in which the First Na-
tional Bank does business. He was a man of strong in-
tellect and business ability, and in the after years attain-
ed to prominence and amassed a fortune.
Manner of Travel.
There were no railroads in this entire section in the
FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 1825 11
early days, and the manner of travel to distant points was
either on horseback, in buggies or by stage coach. The
merchants frequently rode horseback to New York and
Philadelphia to purchase their stocks of goods, which
they had shipped to Mobile by water, thence to Cahaba,
from which latter place the goods were hauled in wagons
to Greensboro. The writer has often heard Col. John
G. Harvey relate the fact that he was on his way to New
York on horseback in 1833 when the stars fell. It was
interesting to hear him describe the grandeur of the celes-
tial display ; but he would admit that a person was not in
a condition of mind to go into ecstacies over it while the
stars were falling, but the beauty and grandeur came to
the mind later on, when all sense of the danger of the
arrival of the general judgment day had passed. The
Colonel related that he was somewhere in North Carolina
at the time, and he was specially impressed with the rare-
fied atmosphere the next day. He never remembered to
have breathed air so pure and bracing. A lame horse
would always remind the Colonel of the experience of '33,
on account of the fact that the one he was riding to New
York was lame at the time of this meteoric shower —
which has gone down into history as the most phenomenal
The financial crisis of 1825 was severely felt in Greens-
boro, and from 1825 to 1828 there were many bank-
ruptcies, which created much business for the lawyers,
who prospered greatly. This over, there came a lull, till
the fearful crisis of 1837, when the financial fabric of
the entire Union seemed to be ripped from top to bot-
tom, and the whole nation nearly became bankrupt, and
the effects of which continued until 1842 and 1843, at
which later date the people of Greensboro seemed to have
somewhat recovered from the shock. During the period
the lawyers, clerks of courts, sheriffs and all judicial of-
12 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
For a graphic and true picture of the disastrous panic
of 1837, the reader is referred to "Baldwin's Fhish Times
of Alabama and Mississippi," wherein the author has
portrayed the woes and miseries the people underwent
during the period succeeding the "bursting of the bubble."
Thousands upon thousands of acres of land in this sec-
tion went under the hammer of the auctioneer when set-
tlement day came after the fictitious fortunes that had
been accumulated on a mere promise to pay had been
swept away by one stroke of "Old Hickory" Jackson's
pen. The wreck and ruin that strewed the financial
pathway of that period served as danger signals for many
long years — and there are those living in this day and
generation who have learned from a study of the fearful
crisis of 1837, that it does not pay, in the long run, for
a person to become rich on a credit.
Rode Him on a Rail.
Back in the early days, when Greensboro was going
through the formative period, there were quite a number
of the rough and lawless element within its borders. Oc-
casionally one of these would act so very badly that the
better class of citizens would become outraged, and take
the matter of punishment of the offender into their own
In a log house located near where the residence of W.
W. Overstreet now stands on Main street, there resided
a man who frequently whipped his wife severely. He
would be fined for the offence by the justice of the peace,
but this did not seem to have the effect of stopping him.
One night he gave his wife an unusually severe whipping.
The matter became generally known next day, and some
of the citizens — of the number Capt. John Cocke, Col.
Scott, William Hopper and Richard Hatter — decided that
they would endeavor to cure the offender of his wicked
doings, so they got a good stout rail and placed it where
RODE HIM ON A RAIL 13
it could be gotten hold of handily, and waited for the wife
beater to come up town. In an hour or two he made
his appearance, and seated himself in front of a little
store where Northup & Hanna now do business. Capt.
Cocke crossed over the street and engaged him in con-
versation, totally foreign to the subject of wife-beating.
The culprit was whittling with a large, ugly-looking knife,
and the Captain watched for a favorable opportunity to
knock it out of his hand, but the man seemed to suspect
something and kept close watch on him. Seeing the
dilemma. Col. Scott crossed over to where the two men
were talking, and soon caught the man off his guard.
He picked his chance, and with a vigorous kick, landed
the knife in the middle of the street. Cocke and Scott
grabbed their victim and held him until the rail was
brought by Hopper and Hatter. Other citizens joined in,
and placed the man on the rail and held him on it, while
others put the ends on their shoulders and paraded up and
down Main street, singing at the top of their voices :
"Here's the man what whips his wife!" After punishing
him in this manner for some time, the fellow was given
his liberty, with the injunction that if the citizens ever
heard of his striking his wife they would take him out
and wear the hide from him with switches.
The admonition was heeded, and this sort of conduct
on the part of the fellow was never heard of again.
THE PASSING OF TROY— GREENSBORO— VAR-
IOUS CHARTERS AND AMENDMENTS.
In December, 1823, Abijah Peck and others made ap-
plication to the Legislature of Alabama for a charter of
incorporation for the town of Greensborough, in the
county of Greene and on the 24th of that month the Act
of incorporation was passed. Its chartered name was
"the Intendant and Council of the Town of Greensbor-
ough," and the incorporation was "endowed with the
same powers and privileges and subject to the same re-
strictions and regulations in all their proceedings and
governed in the same manner as is provided in an Act
to Incorporate the Town of Montgomery, passed on the
3rd day of December, 1819." And thus was Greensboro
first given a name and a habitation on the map.
Among the first ordinances passed by the Intendant and
Council under this charter was one to prohibit horserac-
ing through the Main street.
The spirit of the old Trojans had become quite preva-
lent, and the rougher element from the outlying districts
made a practice of coming to town and running horse
races up and down what is now the Main street of Greens-
boro. In addition to the enactment of the ordinance pro-
hibiting this conduct, several of the prominent gentlemen
of the town banded together, and informed the "sports"
that they must discontinue their practice; in fact, our
HORSE RACING 15
notes recite that the aforesaid gentlemen made their lec-
ture to the lawless element more forcible by having their
pistols with them, and informing the offenders that if
they were guilty of running races on the Main street
again they would be shot from their horses. This had
the desired effect, and the "jockeys," in the after years —
1834 — made another track two miles west of town near
the plantation known as the Jenkins place, and kept up
the sport for a number of years. It finally fell into dis-
use in this section altogether, and there has not been a
horse race in Greensboro for many, many years.
But to go back a little : A note before us says that on
an extra gala occasion in Greensboro in the days of the
reign of the "jockeys," that as a bunch of the racers came
dashing up the street at break-neck speed, one of the
horses flew the track and ran into a dogwood thicket
where the old Whelan residence (now owned by Mrs.
Ricard) stands, and killed the jockey. The name of the
unfortunate fellow is forgotten, and even the place of
his burial was not remembered by our informant.
During the period between 1823 and 1832, the citizens
of Greensboro seem to have allowed their charter to lapse
from non-use, for on January 21, 1832, the Legislature
passed an Act "To revive, repeal in part and amend an
Act to Incorporate the Town of Greensborough in the
county of Greene, approved December 24, 1823."
By this Act the following taxes only could be assessed
and collected :
1. Not exceeding one-fourth of one per cent on real
2. A poll tax of $1 on each white male inhabitant
over the age of twenty-one years.
3. Not exceeding $1 each on all four-wheeled pleasure
4. On all retailers of liquors, goods and merchandise,
not exceeding $10 per annum.
From the foregoing it will be seen that the income of
16 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
the town was quite small, but the expenses were equally
so. The officers received no salaries. The Intendant was
allowed to charge only a small fee for the trial of crim-
inal offences, and the Constable was also allowed to charge
a nominal fee for making arrests, but it was a rare oc-
currence for a case to be reported to the Intendant. Nearly
all the cases for breach of peace, if reported at all, were
carried before the Justices of the Peace, whose courts
were kept quite busy at times — and all were white people
who were tried, as the negroes were slaves, and were
rarely ever guilty of violating the laws either of the
town or the State.
The corporate limits of the town at this time were the
quarter section — 160 acres — and so remained until Jan-
uary 12, 1833, when they were extended to embrace the
residence and lots now owned and occupied by Charles E.
Latimer. The object of the extension was to relieve the
owner — John Marast — of the duty of working the public
road outside of the town.
Addition to Greensboro.
In 1835 a further proposed addition was made to the
town of Greensboro. At that time the corporate limits
extended west only to the cross street dividing the Stoll-
enwerck old homestead from the N. L. Castleman place.
What is known as McAlpine's addition was, in 1836, sold
at public sale. The following is a copy of the original
advertisement of the sale:
NOTICE— LAND AT AUCTION.
Will be sold to the highest bidder, at auction, on the third Mon-
day in January next, all of that tract of land known as the Mc-
Alpine tract and designated as the South West Quarter of Sec-
tion 17, Township 20, and Range 5, East.
The said land will be sold out in lots of various sizes, contain-
ing from one-fourth of an acre to six acres, with streets from
66 to 75 feet wide. The above tract of land is situated immediately
EARLY SOCIAL LIFE 17
West and adjoining the Town of Greensborough, Green County,
Persons wishing to reside in the said town or its immediate
vicinity, would do well to examine the above premises, in person,
previous to the day of sale. Some of the lots have beautiful groves
and elevated situations for building — one of them containing four
acres, is verv well improved, having on it a comfortable frame
dwelling, all other necessary out houses, a good garden, excellent
well of water, and a fine peach orchard.
The undersigned Commissioners, will give to the purchaser or
purchasers, a certificate for the lot or lots they may purchase;
deeds given by them when the last payment shall have been made.
Terms of sale, one-third cash, and the balance in one and two
years. Notes with good securities, will be required. Sale to com-
mence at 10 o'clock and continue from day to day.
J. C. McALPINE,
JOHN N. McDowell,
A plat of the above lots may be seen by calling at the Beacon
of Liberty Printing Office.
Greensboro'. Dec. 23, 1835.
The McAlpines were prominent citizens of Greensboro
for a number of years.
Early Social Life.
The social life of Greensboro has always been pleas-
ant, even from the earliest days. Refinement and culture
were brought here with the greater portion of the early
settlers, and the children of the pioneers were given the
best advantages available in the matter of education.
After the downfall of the great Napoleon at Waterloo,
many of the French people who were identified closely
with the Napoleonic party fled the country — one of them,
J. J. Cluis, cultivated a farm near Greensboro in the early
thirties. He had been a man of considerable note during
the reign of Napoleon and was at one time an aide to the
famous Marshal Lefebvre, the Duke of Rivigo, who was
afterwards at the head of the police department of Paris.
Colonel Cluis was then his secretary. At another time
Cluis had the custody of Ferdinand VII, King of Spain,
18 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
while he was imprisoned by Napoleon. Like the balance
of the refugees, he found the cultivation of the vine and
the olive an unremunerative business in Alabama, and
became quite a poor man, but was always proud, and
seemed to live back in the past when the world trembled
beneath the onward march of the great "Army of the Re-
public" of which he was an honored member. In order
to sustain life, this once famous man kept a hotel or tav-
ern in Greensboro for some time. He moved from here
to Mobile, where he died a few years afterwards.
Quite a number of other French people settled in this
immediate neighborhood, and lent the charm of their
manners and the elegance of their deportment to the so-
cial life of Greensboro in the long ago. Their descend-
ants are yet to be found in this section.
The tournament was in great vogue in those days, and
elaborate preparations were made for the exciting sport.
Gallant knights came from miles around to participate
in the tourney. Their costumes were splendid, and the
plumed knights, as they rode in a body to the grounds,
presented a fine appearance. The crowning of the Queen
of Love and Beauty was attended with much pomp and
ceremony, and was a great occasion.
Parties and dances were numerous. The dances were
always given at private homes, and the host and hostess
of the occasion spread a most sumptuous repast, at which
champagne and wine flowed freely. The attire of
the ladies was of the latest fashion and of the finest ma-
terials, and that of the gentlemen was of broadcloth. At
the dances only the old Virginia reel and the stately min-
uette were danced — the German, with its many intricate
figures, being an unknown accomplishment among the
dancers of the old time. When the vivacious French peo-
ple who entered into the social life of the town, fresh
from "gay Paree," showed the assembled company how
the round dance was executed, they looked on with pleas-
ed surprise, and as time went by they, too, learned the
EARLY SOCIAL LIFE 19
art, and the old Virginia reel and the minuette were su-
The girls were as beautiful and charming, and the men
were as true and gallant in that distant time as are the
girls and young men of today. But all those who lived
in the period referred to have long since vanished — their
very names, many of them, being forgotten.
They were happy and joyous beneath the self-same
sky that bends above the Greensboro of today, but they
now rest out under the quiet stars, forgetful of all life's
joys and sorrows and disappointments — which will be
recorded of you and me in the after-time. But
"A hundred years from now, dear heart,
We'll neither know nor care
What came of all life's bitterness,
Or followed love's despair.
Then fill the glasses up again,
And kiss me through the rose-leaf rain ;
We'll build one Castle more in Spain,
And dream one more dream there."
In 1835, the road from Erie, the then county seat of
Greene, made no turn at the N. B. Jones' front gate as
now, but continued at an angle in the rear of the Benners'
house near the present location of the Pasteur home,
went across the Boardman front yard, and then entered
"THE OLD RED HOUSE."
Oldest structure in Greensboro. It was erected in the early
The Al Stollenwerck old homestead lot extended to the
then road; a private dwelling, occupied by Mr. Lowry,
known as the "Red House," so-called from the color it
was painted, stood very near the road, so that in looking
down Main street, it seemed to block it. This old house
is still in existence, and was used for many years by the
Stollenwercks as a kitchen. It is yet in the back yard
HUNG IN EFFIGY 21
of the Stollenwerck lot. 'The Red House" was regarded
as quite a commodious dwelling when it was erected back
in the latter part of the twenties. The above is a splen-
did picture of the old two-room building.
Beyond the Boardman residence was the home of Mrs.
Ashe, and further on, as far as Dr. Wm. Jones' planta-
tion, which was located in the rear of the present Hobson
homestead, all was a dense forest covered with thick un-
dergrowth. The hollow just east of where W. B. Inge
resides, was a very dense thicket, with a rippling stream
flowing through it.
Himg in Effigy.
The cutting down of an oak tree and the filling of a
well in 1843 in Greensboro came near causing a riot.
Much bitter feeling was manifested over the incident.
In the exact center of Main street at the intersection of
Tuscaloosa street, was a public well covered by a square
shelter with a four-sided roof; shading it was a large,
thrifty, beautifully shaped oak, beneath the shade of
which the inhabitants rested and whiled away the dull,
hot summer days. In 1843, the Town Council, after de-
liberating over the matter, and coming to the conclusion
that the well and the beautiful oak were unnecessary
obstructions to the highway, had the well filled up and
the tree cut down. So great was the indignation of the
populace over this act of vandalism (as they regarded
it) that the Intendant, who was instrumental in remov-
ing the ancient landmarks, was hung in effigy. At the
time of the existence of the well referred to, there was
another in the center of Main street very near the Greens-
boro hotel. This well was also filled up. About ten or
twelve years ago, this old relic was brought to the at-
tention of the public by a sinking of the soil at this point.
The old inhabitants then recalled the watering place of
the old days. It is a fact that is not generally known, or
22 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
at least not thought of by many, that a wound in the
breast of old mother earth never heals if made beneath
the top soil. The clay never runs together and forms
again a solid strata, but the cut always remains.
On January 27, 1845, an Act was passed to "Alter and
amend the several Acts Incorporating the Town of
Greensborough." It somewhat enlarged the powers of
the Intendant and Council.
On February 12, 1850, another Act to amend the char-
ter was passed, the main feature of which was authoriz-
ing the town to build a jail, or calaboose, for the deten-
tion of slaves. The building erected is still standing in
the rear of the old market house, located on the southern
boundary line of the property of Gulley and Christian
on Main street. It served as a county prison before the
present jail was built, and many are the evil doers who
have been detained within the narrow limits of the two
little rooms composing the calaboose. It is still in use
by the town as a city prison.
As a matter of historical interest we record here that
the town of Greensboro presented the county of Hale with
the building now used as a jail immediately in the rear
of the court house. This was done in accordance with
the proposition Greensboro made the county to the effect
that it would present the county with a court house and
jail if the voters would make the town the county seat.
The brick of which the jail is built was burned in 1868 by
the town authorities, and it is claimed that considerable
money was saved by the operation. Hugh Watt was the
In 1850, the town erected the building that is now used
as the Fire Company's House, as a public market, and
all butchers and sellers of fresh meats were required by
law to keep their places of business in stalls provided for
the purpose. The stalls were rented to the butchers,
and quite a neat sum was realized each year by the town
from the rentals. The bell in the little tower — now used
LIMITS EXTENDED 23
as a fire alarm — was rung each morning between four
and five o'clock to notify the people of Greensboro that
the market was open and ready for business. In those
days every one buying beef had to go or send for it, or
else they went without.
On January 25, 1856, an Act incorporating the South-
ern University was passed. Sections 4, 5, and 6 of this
Act forbids the sale of liquors within a radius of five
miles of Greensboro, except by druggists. Governor Win-
ston vetoed the bill, but the Legislature passed it over
The exception in regard to druggists selling liquors was
soon taken advantage of, and for some years the drug
stores sold whiskey without apparent restraint. So fla-
grantly was the intent of the law violated, that at the ses-
sion of the Legislature 1884-5, the charter of the Univer-
sity was amended so as to prohibit the sale of liquor by
the druggists. For nearly a quarter of a century no liquor
has been legally sold in Greensboro. On January 1, 1887,
the entire county of Hale became prohibition territory by
It was not until the year 1858 that the limits of the
town were extended beyond the original quarter section
and the Marast lot. Acting under Sections 1220 and 1225
of the then General Statutes of Alabama, a petition was
filed in the Probate Court of Greene county, praying that
the matter of extending the corporate limits of Greens-
boro might be submitted to a vote of the qualified electors
of said town. The territory designated as an addition
was the northeast, the southeast and southwest quarters
of Section 16. Considerable opposition to the proposed
addition developed, and the election was quite exciting.
However, the extensionists won, the vote standing sixty
for, and forty-two against extension. The territory an-
nexed came under the jurisdiction of the town authori-
ties in April, 1858.
In 1859, the charter was again amended so as to author-
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
ize the imprisonment of white persons, and also made the
Intendant elective by the people instead of by the Council
as before. The office of marshal was also created.
On March 1st, 1870, an Act was approved by the Legis-
lature, by which all former Acts in regard to the Charter
of the town of Greensboro were repealed, and the powers
granted under the act of 1870, were regarded as the pow-
ers to be exercised by those in authority. New ordinances
and new by-laws were enacted by the Mayor and Council.
Finally the Legislature at its session of 1894-5 repeal-
ed all former Acts and gave the town its present char-
ter. The corporate limits as set forth and defined therein
are the same as the limits of today. The following is the
territory embraced in the corporation: The West half
of the Northwest quarter, the Southwest quarter and the
West half of the Southeast quarter of Section 16 ; the East
half and the Southwest quarter of Section 17 ; the North
half of the Northwest quarter, and the Northwest quar-
ter of the Northwest quarter of Section 20, and that part
of Section 21 lying north of a line beginning at the South-
east corner of the Southern University grounds and run-
ning West to the Section line between Sections 20 and
21, all in Township 20, Range 5, East.
GINNING AND MARKETING OF COTTON.
On the lot in the rear of Geo. Findlay's store stood, in
1830, a gin house and screw. The merchants bought cot-
ton in the seed and had it ginned, and the small planters
brought in their cotton to have it ginned for toll. The
merchants also bought much cotton in bales. Mobile was
the market to which it was shipped, and the shipping
point was what is now known as old Erie — not a house
being left to mark the site of the once flourishing town.
The hauling to Erie gave employment to a number of
professional white teamsters. The mule teams of these
wagoners, as well as the teams of the neighboring plant-
ers, were decorated with bells, high up over the hames,
bright and glistening, which, besides setting off the beau-
ty of the animals, made the streets musical and lively
by their merry jingle.
Sport in the Old Days.
In 1830, on the lot where now stands the handsome
three-story Opera House, there was located a wall-like
erection of plank supported by braces behind (say 30
feet long by 25 feet high) like one side of a building, for
the purpose of ball-play. The name of the game played
by the men of that distant period was "Fives," and dur-
ing the dull summer season, it was a very popular amuse-
ment. Base ball was one of the joys which the citizen-
ship of the long ago never knew, and therefore never
missed, just as the game of "Fives" is to the present gen-
26 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Up to 1832 the public school lands (the 16th section)
were rented out, and the proceeds applied to the schools.
On January 13th, 1832, they were sold at auction — John
M. Bates, Patrick May and Hugh McCann being the com-
missioners. The plat (which shows the location of the
roads at that time) with the names of the purchasers,
is recorded in Book E, page 511 Greene county deed re-
cords. After the sale, the lands were cultivated by the
owners, or rented out. Some of the lots — that for in-
stance on which stands the D. F. McCrary home, and oth-
ers in close proximity, rented for $12 per acre per year
for growing cotton. The land was rich and produced
very fine crops.
Killing of Dr. Hellen.
Up to twenty-five or thirty years ago, Greensboro bore
an unenviable reputation abroad for being a rowdy, tur-
bulent place, — a place where murders were frequently
committed. And it is a fact that there is hardly a corner
on the streets of the town where the soil has not been red-
dened with the life-blood of some hum.an being. There
were feuds and fights and killings that would have done
credit to a mountain county of Kentucky, But all that
passed away a quarter of a century ago, and in all the land
there is not to be found a more quiet, refined, peaceable
and lawabiding people.
It would require many pages to tell of the awful trag-
edies that have been enacted on the streets of the town.
We shall mention only one of the many occurrences. It
happened so far back that there is not a man now living
who has personal knowledge of the unfortunate affair,
but there are a few who have it from their fathers or
On December 21, 1833, a special election for justice of
KILLING OF DR. H ELLEN 27
the peace was being held in a store situated on the Stein-
hart corner. In those days the office was much sought
after, and the campaign on this occasion was very warm.
A man named John Street, a lawyer, was a candidate
for the position. During the progress of the election,
a young physician named Dr. J. S. W. Hellen, became
engaged in a quarrel with one of Street's brothers, and
blows and a tussle ensued on the sidewalk near the poll-
ing place. The fighting men were soon surrounded by
a crowd. John Street came to his brother's assistance.
Dr. Hellen broke loose from his antagonists, rushed into
the store, picked up a couple of scale weights, exclaiming:
"Let me get back to the d — n scoundrels!" and as he
went out of the door he fell dead on the sidewalk. An
examination showed that he had been fatally stabbed.
The Streets were arrested, and either placed under bond
or put in jail at Erie. They were indicted by the grand
jury for the murder of Hellen. Col. John Erwin, the
ablest lawyer in this section, was employed to defend
them. Owing to the feeling of the public against the men,
a change of venue was granted, and the trial took place
in Marengo county. Although there was a large number
of witnesses, no one could be found who knew which of
the Streets struck the fatal blow, and as they were tried
separately, both were acquitted.
At the time of his murder. Dr. Hellen was Worship-
ful Master of the Masonic Lodge in Greensboro, and was
buried with the honors of the Craft on December 22,
1833. The funeral services were held in the Presbyte-
rian Church — then located on the lot immediately in
front of the Greensboro Graded School. The funeral
sermon was delivered by Rev. John Ives.
Twenty or more years after the occurrence, there came
to Greensboro on business a man from North Carolina
named Brooks. He met Col. Erwin, the lawyer who had
defended the Streets, and in the course of the conversa-
tion he remarked that it was his first visit to Greensboro
28 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
since Dr. Hellen was killed. The reference at once arous-
ed the interest of Col. Erwin, and he asked him what he
knew about the fight, and he said that he saw the entire
occurrence from beginning to end, and that he saw the
man when he made the fatal stab at Hellen. "The man,"
continued Brooks, "reached over while the two men were
clinched and plunged his knife into Hellen with all his
might. He quickly withdrew it from Hellen's body, wiped
the blade on the leg of his trousers, and walked off around
the corner. He was a tall, slender fellow. The next
time I saw him he was standing on the corner (near the
present Lichtman store) dressed in an entirely different
suit of clothes, but I recognized him as the man who did
This, declared the lawyer, was the first time that he
knew certainly which one of the Streets struck the fatal
blow, and from the description of the man given by
Brooks he then knew that John Street was the person.
DIVISION OF GREENSBORO IN THE EARLY
YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE.
A few years prior to 1830, Greensborough was divided
into three imaginary wards, known as "The White Set-
tlement," "The Black Settlement," and "Dogsboro." A
diligent search failed to reveal the reason for the names.
The reader is left to judge of the appropriateness of each
by a description of the various wards.
The boundaries of the White Settlement were from
Centreville street on the east to the street immediately
east of the Greensboro hotel on the west — in other words,
the two blocks east from the hotel. In this Settlement
was a two-story frame hotel, painted white, located where
the court house now stands. Opposite, was an imposing-
looking (for those days) frame house, the residence of
Dr. Hunter. The house is yet standing, but has been
added to in the rear, and is known as the Gewin hotel.
Further on towards the west, on either side of the street,
were buildings variously occupied — two dry goods stores,
in one of which was the postoffice, a tinner's shop, a tail-
or's shop, a lawyer's office, a printing office and two
From the street east of the Greensboro hotel to Tusca-
loosa street on the west was known as the Black Settle-
ment. Within these limits were four or five dry goods
stores, two liquor saloons, two lawyers' offices and three
dwellings. On the Powers' corner stood a one-story dou-
ble log cabin, kept as a hotel, its swinging sign a stag.
Scarff's cabinet shop and residence stood where the large
30 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
two-story brick store stands at the corner of Tuscaloosa
and Main Streets— built in 1887 by Capt. S. T. Taylor—
by the way, the first brick structure that had been erected
in the town long before the civil war. Opposite the
Scarff building was a red frame house, a hotel, kept by
Maj. A. L. DesCourt, a French refugee, who had served
under the first Napoleon, and participated in the battle
of Waterloo ; further up, on the same side of the street,
was a store and a tailor's shop.
Dogsboro extended from Tuscaloosa street on the east
to the Stollenwerck old homestead on the west — the west-
ern boundary line being the corporate limits of the town.
In Dogsboro stood the village blacksmith shop (Coleman
W. Garrett, proprietor). It was located near the west cor-
ner of the present Methodist church lot, about as far
back from the street as the church stands.
The passage of the years and the earnest endeavors of
good people work wonderful changes. The progress of
civilization is to be noted by the churches and schools
along the pathway. Back in the days referred to, when
Dogsboro precinct was in its glory, near where stands
the Methodist church was a two-story frame store, which
was used from 1833 to 1836, at the time of the races, as
an open gambling house. It was filled with faro tables
and gambling devices of many kinds, and the visitors
to the place were numerous, and large sums were lost
and won on the result of the races and around the gam-
ing tables. The officers of the law paid no attention to
such diversions, and gambling and horse-racing went on
undisturbed. This house was occupied for a few years
after 1836 by Levin Gayle as a dry goods store. In 1839,
the lot was sold to the Methodists of Greensboro, and
a church was erected thereon the next year.
As noted above, gambling in the early days of this sec-
PRINCELY GAMBLING 31
tion was very common and considered quite a respect-
able occupation, and men of the highest standing, measur-
ed by the moral standard of the age, engaged in it and wa-
gered princely fortunes on the turn of a card. To illus-
trate the reckless daring of those who sat at the gaming
table in the days referred to, the following true incident
is related :
Some time in the year 1833, there went aboard one of
the magnificent steam-boats on the Alabama at Mobile,
a young man, (whom we shall call Brown) on his way
home at a point higher up^he river. He had spent sever-
al days in the city transacting business, and was return-
ing with a very large sum of money to be used in the con-
duct of his business as a merchant. After selecting his
state-room and looking to the safety of his baggage, he
leisurely strolled about and made the acquaintance of his
fellow passengers. He was of good address, handsome
and well educated. He found, to his intense disgust, that
he was so unfortunate as to have taken passage with
quite a large anl accomplished set of gamblers. They
were going up the river on a "professional tour."
No sooner was the steamer well under way before these
gamblers brought forth the implements of their profes-
sion. Faro, roulette and various other gambling devices
were exhibited to tempt the unwary to risk their money.
At first, many of the passengers objected to having the
cabin turned into a gambling hell; but the professionals
were loud in their claims that they played on the square,
and assured those who objected that if one of their num-
ber should be caught cheating, the stakes should be for-
feited and he put off on the nearest land. After this, no
further objection was made, and the numerous games
went on without interruption.
By some means the gamblers found out that Brown
had a large sum of money with him and they constantly
besought him to ''try his luck," but he firmly declined
all invitations. But one evening after supper, tiring of
32 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
their solicitations he yielded, and consented to make one
of a party of four who were about to sit down to a game
of cards for small stakes.
For a while, no special interest attached to the game,
— it seemed tame and uninteresting, and the parties ap-
peared to be evenly matched in point of skill. But as the
game progressed, the professionals discovered that Brown
was no novice at the card table, for he was able to hold
his hand with the best. Larger sums were staked as the
hours passed. Two of the professionals, either unable
or unwilling to risk such amounts as were being bet with-
drew from the game. Brown and one of the gamblers,
however, still retained their seats, and with eager faces
and shaking hands continued to play. All the **banks"
were deserted, and every one in the cabin gathered
around the table and in breathless silence watched the
game. Fortune was favoring Brown, and he won stake
after stake, when the professional, with a fierce oath,
dashed down the cards and challenged him to give him his
revenge with dice, to which proposition Brown assented.
The dice and cups were produced, and the now thor-
oughly excited men again bet their money, but not with
the same result. Brown was the loser in every throw.
He now seemed wild and beside himself with excitement.
He doubled every time, until no less than ten thousand
dollars lay upon the table to be won or lost on a single
throw of the dice. Again the gambler was successful.
Brown sprang from his chair, and telling his antagonist
to remain where he was, repaired to his state-room and
returning in a few minutes, threw upon the table a large
roll of bank bills, saying to the gambler :
"You have already won from me over fifteen thousand
dollars. The money I have just placed upon the table re-
presents double that amount. I dare you to put up a like
sum and let the ownership of the whole be decided by a
PRINCELY GAMBLING 33
The gambler, without hesitation, expressed his willing-
ness to do so, but declared that he did not have so much
money as that. The deficiency, however, was soon made
up by his partners, and the two men prepared to resume
the game. Lying near Brown was a large carving fork
which the waiter had neglected to take from the table
when he had cleared it that evening, and as he resumed
his seat he carelessly, and apparently accidently, drew
this fork close to his side.
A breathless silence pervaded the entire room. Men
stood aghast at the tremendous nerve of the two players.
Sixty thousand dollars to be won or lost on a single throw
of the dice !
Brown seized the cup, and shaking the dice violently
for a moment, dashed them before him. Those who were
in sympathy with him could hardly suppress a cry of
exultation as they saw that he had thrown double fives —
within one of the highest number it is possible to make.
The professionals cast uneasy glances at each other,
but the gambler who was playing with Brown only smiled
scornfully, and drew the dice towards him. However,
just as he was placing them in the box, they slipped from
his fingers and fell upon the floor.
In an instant, he stooped and recovered them, but as he
reached forth his hand to take the cup. Brown, whose eyes
had a fixed and determined look, and had never for an in-
stant been off him, suddenly seized the fork, and with a
movement as quick as that of a rattlesnake, drove the
sharp prongs through the wrist of the gambler, literally
pinning it to the table, and at the same time presented
a cocked pistol full at his head. There was a fearful yell
from the wounded man, and a volley of oaths from his
companions. Half a dozen weapons were instantly plant-
ed at the breast of Brown. He was, however, equal to
the occasion. Not a muscle of his face moved, and his
voice was as calm and undisturbed as if in ordinary con-
versation as he said :
34 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
"One moment, gentlemen. You yourselves have de-
clared that should one of your number be detected in foul
play, that the stakes should be forfeited and he summari-
ly punished. If the dice under the hand I have pinned
down on this table are not false, then do with me as you
please. If, however, my assertion is correct, I demand
the fulfilment of your pledge."
By this time every male passenger on the boat had col-
lected around the table, and the gamblers saw by their
looks and drawn pistols that they were not to be trifled
with. So they were forced, reluctantly, to admit the
truth of Brown's statement.
The gambler was held securely in his chair, the fork
withdrawn, and the dice examined. They were found
to be loaded. The true pair were concealed up his sleeve.
His fate was sealed. In spite of desperate resistance,
strong arms stripped him of his weapons, forced him
into a boat and rowed him to the nearest land — a low
sand bank entirely surrounded by the rapidly rising river.
Upon this island, deaf to his piteous appeals, they left
him, and the steamer resumed her course up the river.
But long after those on board had lost sight of him,
there came to their ears through the black darkness of
the night, wild cries and fierce denunciations from the
doomed gambler who had been left upon the lonely sand
bank, which was soon to be swept by the angry waters
of the swollen river.
Brown hid his face in his hands and wept like a child.
Strong men turned pale as they heard, above the dash of
the ponderous wheels of the steamer and the rush of the
waters, the despairing wails of the man of whose fate
there could be no doubt, — for the strongest swimmer
could not for a moment stem that fearful torrent, and to
remain upon the bank was but to choose a lingering and
more fearful death.
There was no more gambling on board the boat that
night; and at the first landing reached next day most of
the passengers left her, fleeing as if from some place ac-
cursed. Among those who left was Brown.
It would be profitless to follow him further, for the
reason that this incident is simply noted in order that
the present generation, and that to follow, may have
some idea to what extent men went at the card table in
the olden days when gambling was considered a proper
and respectable occupation.
COL. JOHN G. HARVEY,
A Graduate of West Point Military Academy, and who was editor
of the Alabama Beacon for fifty-five years.
As early as 1824, and presumably earlier, there was a
newspaper published in Greensboro called "The Hal-
cyon," and so far as the record goes, it was the first
publication ever issued in the town. It was edited by
Thomas Eastin. It was a four column sheet, — dimen-
sions 22 1-2 by 17 1-2 inches. In 1825, Mr Eastin,
merged "The Halcyon" into the "Greene County Patriot,"
which was also a small four-page paper, and printed it
continuously for several years.
From an issue of "The Halcyon" dated April 24th,
1824, is to be noted an act of Congress for the "better
organization of the District Court of the United States
for the District of Alabama, approved March 8, 1824, by
James Monroe, It also contains an act of the Legislature
of Alabama authorizing the Governor and five Commis-
sioners to effect a State loan of $100,000, by the issuance
and sale of State bonds. The proceeds to be used as cap-
ital in the State Bank then about to be established.
Israel Pickens was then Governor, and Jas. J. Pleas-
ants Secretary of State.
Among the advertisments in this paper, are the follow-
Several lots in Demopolis, advertised by Walter Cren-
shaw, Joseph B. Earle, Geo. S. Gaines and James Chil-
A town ordinance "to prevent the burning of coal-kilns
within the corporate limits" of Greensboro, — signed by
E. Clement, Intendant.
A notice by T. C. H. Gantt, Sheriff of Greene County,
"Hitchcock's Alabama Justice of the Peace," for sale
by F. & E. Peck.
"Law Notice," by John Erwin.
"New Goods," by D. W. Edgerly & Co.
"Caution," by Theophilus Eddins, and another, of a
similar character, by John Stokes.
"Executors' Notice," by Stephen Cook and John Cole-
"Groceries For Sale," by Franklin Robinson,
Notice of administration on the estate of Stephen Her-
rin, dec'd., by Thos. C. Gantt, Adm'r.
The following notice of the Mobile cotton market ap-
pears: "Prime, 13 l-2c. — Fair, 12@12 l-2c. Inferior,
"The Halcyon" and "The Patriot" were the first papers
38 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
ever printed in the town, and their weekly advent was
looked forward to with great interest by subscribers, and
others. In those days, and even down to a much later
date, there was no personal mention of goings and com-
ings of the citizens, nor any reports of dances, card par-
ties, meetings of Women's Clubs, etc. Indeed, it was the
rule with the editors of the olden time to strenuously
avoid the mention of the name of a lady in their publica-
tions. One of the editors belonging to the old regime —
Col. John G. Harvey — told the writer that he thought no
lady's name should ever appear in the public print ex-
cept on two occasions, to-wit : When she married and
when she died. And that was the idea entertained on the
subject by nearly all the editors of fifty or more years
ago. Could they come forth from their graves and take
only a hasty glance at the average publication of to-day,
they would be shocked beyond measure, and possibly
think that we had fallen upon degenerate times.
In July, 1833, The Greene County Sentinel was estab-
lished in Greensboro by Daniel F. Brown. It was a five
column, four page paper, and was well patronized by the
citizens of Greene county and of Mobile in the way of
advertising. The subscription was three dollars per year,
or four dollars if the subscriber waited until the end of
the year to pay the bill. We have before us a copy of the
Sentinel of December 26, 1835. It contains such names
of former residents of the town as Young Bohannan, who
offers "A Reward of $5.00 for the return of a Hound Dog
with the end of his tail cut off";" Doctors McCann &
Thompson who offer their professional services to the
people; William W. Jackson, notifies all persons not to
purchase a certain note of hand which he had given B. H.
Covington ; Dr. Wm. P. Murphy tenders his services to
the people of Greensboro and vicinity, and advertises
his office "at the residence of Mr. John G. Harvey op-
posite Mr. Gayle's store;" Webb & Dugger advertise their
mercantile business, as do also J. & G. Noble ; Wm. Myatt,.
Secretary of Lafayette Masonic Lodge, gives notice that
there will be a Masonic and citizen's ball given at the
Warrior House in Greensboro on the night of December
28th, 1835 ; Chas. Whelan advertises new and fashion-
able clothing, and Locke & Lowry, were merchant tail-
ors in Greensboro seventy odd years ago; various tracts
of land are offered for sale by John F. Sossaman, W. P.
Brown, Wm. B. Lightfoot, George S. Dugger, John Car-
ter, James S. Jones, Wm. F. Monett, James Yeates and
others. The following advertisement from the Sentinel
will prove to be something unusual to the reader of the
present generation :
"Public Auction — Will be sold in the Town of Greensborough, on
the 8th day of January, 1836, to the highest bidder, 6 Likely Ne-
groes, consisting of two Men, three Women and one Boy; all of
which are choice field hands. Tei'ms made known on the day of
sale. GULEELMUS WOOD."
The Sentinel passed into the hands of Thomas DeWolf,
who retained possession of it for a year or so, and then
sold out to one McCormic, and he in turn sold the paper
to John B. Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse tired of the news-
paper business, and sold the plant to Charles Briggs, and
in 1840 left Greensboro and became a Purser in the U.
S. Navy. He died in Philadelphia, June 22, 1874, aged
62 years. He was on the retired list of the Navy at the
time of his death. During The Sentinel's varied career
its name was changed by some one of its owners to The
Alabama Beacon — subscription $5.00 per year in advance
— under which title Col. John G. Harvey purchased it in
1843 and continued its publication until his death, July
3, 1890, when the paper passed into the hands of Jas. W.
Bondurant, who in a year or two sold it to H. G. Benners
and Edwin S. Jack. Mr. Benners soon purchased Mr.
Jack's interest, and was from 1893 to 1908 the editor and
publisher, but in the latter year he leased it to Geo. K.
Keady, and returned to the practice of the law. The ca-
reer of The Beacon has been a long and honorable one.
40 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
and is linked with the history of the town for nearly
three-quarters of a century.
The Alabama Republican was the name of a paper that
was published in Greensboro by Thomas DeWolf in 1839.
How long it survived, we do not know, and of its his-
tory we could learn nothing.
In the year 1835 there was published in Greensboro a
paper called the Beacon Light of Liberty, but as to its
history we are in ignorance, nor could we ascertain any
facts in regard to it. Back in those days the county offi-
cials were not required to keep bound file copies of all
newspapers published in the county, as is now the case,
and it is a very great pity that such a law was not in force
at that time, for the history of the progress or retrogre-
sion of any town or city in Alabama might be accurately
written by a study of these old papers — for the papers
then, as now, largely reflected the life of the communities
in which they were published. In reference to the Beacon
Light of Liberty, one might naturally suppose that the
Alabama Beacon was the outgrowth of this publication,
but the facts related above in regard to The Beacon were
obtained from Col. John G. Harvey, who owned and edit-
ed it so long, and a more accurate and painstaking man
in his statement of matters of fact could not be found.
In May, 1830, Jacob I. Cribbs conducted the Greene
County Gazette at Erie. If the old saying to the effect
that "the good die young" is applicable to newspapers,
The Gazette m.ust have been a very proper and well-be-
haved periodical, for its existence extended over a period
of only three years.
In November, 1876, W. C. Garrett established The
Southern Watchman in Greensboro, which he conducted
for several years, and then sold the plant to Alex H. Wil-
liams, who owned and edited it until his death in Novem-
ber, 1885. The paper was then purchased by Wm. E.
W. Yerby, the present editor and proprietor of The
Greensboro Watchman — Mr. Yerby changing the name
from The Southern Watchman to The Greensboro Watch-
man — thus giving the paper the distinction and honor of
being the first publication ever named for the town of
In 1902, The Greensboro Record Company established
the Greensboro Record — Geo. K. Ready and Lee M. Otts
editors and publishers. Mr. Ready severed his connec-
tion with the Record in the course of a couple of years,
and Mr. Otts has continued its publication to the present
It will be seen from the foregoing that Greensboro
has not at any time been without a newspaper during
the past eighty-five years.
To recapitulate : The list is as follows : The Halcyon,
The Greene County Patriot, The Beacon Light of Liberty,
The Greene County Sentinel, The Alabama Republican,
The Alabama Beacon, The Greensboro Watchman, The
Greensboro Record — a total of eight.
The editors of the papers mentioned above have been,
during the eighty-five years, as follows: Thomas Eas-
tin, Daniel F. Brown, Thomas DeWolf, Mr. McCormic,
John B. Rittenhouse, Charles Briggs, John G. Harvey,
W. C. Garrett, Alex H. Williams, Wm. E. W. Yerby, Jas.
W. Bondurant, H. G. Benners, Edwin S. Jack, George R.
Ready, Lee M. Otts — a total of fifteen.
THE GREENSBORO GUARDS.
COL. ALLEN C. JONES,
Who was the first Captain of the Greensboro Guards, — and after-
wards Colonel of the 5th Alabama Regiment C. S. A.
The following is a complete list of the old Greensboro
Guards, Company D, Fifth Alabama Regiment, Confed-
erate States of America. This company, numbering 209,
left Greensboro for the war on the first day of May, 1861,
and served heroically in the fearful struggle from Bull
Run to Appomattox :
THE GREENSBORO GUARDS
Allen C. Jones, Captain.
Gid Nelson, First Lieutenant.
M. L. Dedman, Second Lieutenant.
E. L. Hobson, Third Lieutenant.
John F. Christian, First Sergeant.
Joe Borden, Second Sergeant,
Samuel Cowin, Third Sergeant.
J. D. Webb, Jr., Fourth Sergeant.
Gid G. Wescott, First Corporal.
Jonathan Williams, Second Corporal.
E. Pompey Jones, Third Corporal.
W. J. McDonald, Fourth Corporal.
A. H. Moore,
J. P. Moore,
J. A. Grigg,
J. M. Brown,
S. V. Webb,
T. C. Hill,
C. T. Briggs,
R. S. McCall,
J. W. Wynne,
R. B. Price,
W. A. Lanier,
W. A. McCall,
B. A. Carter,
W. J. Jones,
A. B. Chapman,
D. T. Webster,
W. C. Tunstall,
W. G. Britton
J. W. Crowell,
P. H. Lavender,
J. W. Locke,
W. T. Jackson,
W. A. Simms,
W. D. Miller,
T. B. Rowland,
W. R. Hooper,
D. J. Briggs,
B. A. Butler,
R. A. Chadwick,
W. W. Long,
W. F. Bulger,
J. J. Givins,
E. T. Hutchinson,
M. H. Jones,
G. W. Layne,
J. C. Ray,
R. H. Simonds,
H. C. Stephenson,
R. H. Trawick,
T. F. Ward,
J. L. Youngblood,
A. C. Waddell,
J. W. Parker,
W. Y. Idom,
W. B. Moorman
R. H. Adams,
G. T. Price,
E. T. Pasteur,
S. J. Durrough,
J. J. Wright,
S. M. Willingham,
J. C. Orick,
D. G. Williams,
E. Y. Idom,
A. A. Sledge,
H. T. Hollen,
W. J. Madison,
C. C. Sheldon,
A. G. Ward,
J. C. Morris,
J. H. Bayol,
W. W. McNeil,
W. J. A. Little,
L. S. Bostick,
B. H. Sheron,
J. W. Clements,
J. W. Parrish,
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
J. E. Webb,
M. S. Ramsey,
T. G. Moore,
H. G. Geddie,
W. S. Cowin,
B. F. Sadler,
F. A. Borden,
H. M. Chadwick,
E. T. Martin,
J. K. Elliott,
Jas. M. Jack,
S. B. Jackson,
Wm. N. Knight,
J. L. Wright,
F. S. Huggins,
W. G. Hafner,
W. L. Kennedy,
L. M. Wildey,
W. N. Glover,
W. S. Duffie,
J. C. McNeil,
S. W. Chadwick,
J. H. Lee.
D. E. Bailey,
C. L. Williams,
J. D. Webb. Jr.
N. B. Jones,
D. L. Carroll,
R. H. Hardaway,
W. R. Thomas,
H. R. Childress,
W. H. Allen,
J. W. Chiles,
G. W. Holston,
J. T. Knowlen,
J. A. Farrior,
F. E. Bayol,
W. H. Willinffham,
A. R. Morris,
A. J. Geislin,
W. R. Quarles,
C. J. Hausman,
W. C. Croom,
J. A. Hester,
W. W. Borden,
J. M. Martin,
A. G. Coleman,
W. M. Pope,
W. B. Haden,
J. C. Roberts,
J. M. Johnson,
J. E. Wheeler,
J. W. Sanders,
R. H. Pickering,
L. P. Wall,
C. E. Owens,
D. H. Sellers,
G. W. Wilson,
T. W. Walthall,
J. L. Boardman,
J. S. Tucker,
J. C. McDermaide,
J. E. Griggs,
J. B. Youngblood,
L. D. Southworth,
W. D. Woodruff,
J. N. C. Herran,
J. E. Wilson,
J. P. Arrington,
J. F. Jackson,
C. A. Sheldon,
W. D. Witherspoon,
W. H. Sheldon,
J. H. Cowin,
Total membership — 209.
Allen C. Jones of this company rose to the rank of
Colonel of the 5th Alabama Regiment. The Confederate
Veterans' Camp of Greensboro is named in his honor.
This Camp was organized May 25, 1889. Col. Jones died
at his home in Greensboro on January 9, 1894, at the age
of 82 years.
The following is a list of Confederate officers who
served during the war whose residence was in Greens-
boro and Hale county :
Col. A. C. Jones, 5th Alabama Infantry; Col. Syden-
ham Moore, 11th Alabama Infantry; Col. Lemuel Hatch,
8th Alabama Cavalry; Col. E. L. Hobson, 5th Alabama
COMPANY ORGANIZED IN 1864
Infantry; Maj. James D. Webb, 51st Alabama Cavalry;
Maj. D. T. Webster, 5th Alabama; Maj. John G. Harris,
20th Alabama; Capt. Wm. N. Knight, 20th Alabama;
Capt. Noah H. Gewin, 20th Alabama; Capt. A. M. Avery,
20th Alabama; Capt. James A. Wemyss, 36th Alabama;
Capt. J. W. A. Wright, 36th Alabama; Capt. John H.
Turpin, 28th Alabama; Capt. F. M. Moore, Lieutenants
H. C. Childress, J. M. Dedman, John F. Christian, E. P.
COL. SYDENHAM MOORE.
u^ ,,r^« ('nlnnel of the 11th Alabama Regiment. Born May 25,
^' TsiT inS died in Richmond, Va . August 30, 1862, from
wounds leceived in the Battle of Seven Pmes. He was the
7ather of Mrl Harris T. Waller, of Greensboro. Ala., and also
of Rittenhouse Moore, of Mobile.
Jones B S Evans, Dan H. Britton, A. H. Hutchinson,
Gideon E Nelson, W. C. Tunstall, Thomas J. Hatch, Joe
Borden; Thomas A. Hatch, adj't 36th Alabama.
In 1864 when the Confederacy was m desperate
straits for' soldiers, Wm. H. King of Marion, recruited
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
a company of boys between the ages of 16 and 18 years
in the counties of Hale, Greene and Perry. Those who
went from Greensboro and Hale county were:
Wm. H. King, Captain,
Blaney Brand, First Lieutenant.
James Tunstall, Second Lieutenant.
Syd Woods, Third Lieutenant.
Thomas Seay, First Sergeant.
Thomas J. Happel, Second Sergeant.
Aaron Lawson, Third Sergeant.
Henry Boardman, Fourth Sergeant.
E. A. Powers, First Corporal.
Russell Lawless, Second Corporal.
Dave Perry, Third Corporal.
Joe Davis, Fourth Corporal.
Warren E. Kennedy,
Frank E. Robinson,
J. N. Chapman,
William H. Sims,
A. J. Miller,
Wilkins W. Sims,
Charles W. Johnson,
H. H. Johnson,
This company left Greensboro in June, 1864, and
joined Lockhart's Battalion at Selma. Later, after see-
ing actual service at Chehaw, they were organized into
the 62nd Regiment, Infantry, Daniel Huger of Mobile,
Colonel. Fort Gaines surrendered to the Federals in
August, 1864, and the boys were made prisoners of war
and sent to New Orleans, where they remained until
November of the same year, and were then sent to Ship
Island, where they remained until January, 1865, when
they were exchanged and joined their old command at
WOMEN OF THE CONFEDERACY 47
These gallant companies made a record during the
war between the States of which their native town and
county are justly proud. Many of the soldiers fell on the
battle field, and the great majority of those who returned
to their homes have died during the intervening period
of nearly half a century.
Their hopes and spirits were high when they left for
the front, carrying with them the blessings and prayers
of loved ones and friends. They felt that they were go-
ing out to fame and triumph, and left with joy and glad-
ness to serve their native land. But their going forth
and the return of those who were spared from the shot
and shell of battle and the ravages of disease, was in
"Going out with hopes of glory, coming in with
Going out with banners flying, coming in with
But they returned not to sit idly down and lament over
their great misfortunes, but went heroically to work
to retrieve their fallen fortunes and to meet the changed
conditions that had come to the land they loved so well.
The Women of the Confederacy.
And through it all — through the four years of bitter
warfare — who was it that aided them most faithfully
and loyally? Who was it that really bore the larger
share of sorrow and suffering incident upon the cruel
strife? Was it not the fair and beautiful women of
They were loyally true to the cause of their country,
and thought no sacrifice too great for them to make for
the men and boys who were at the front fighting for
their homes and loved ones.
As illustrative of the spirit of the Southern women
48 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
during the dark period of war, the following letter to
the Greensboro Beacon of April 25th, 1862, and signed
"A Rebel Daughter of Alabama," is copied :
"Greensboro, Alabama, April 22d, 1862.
"Col Harvey: Whilst our fathers, brothers and friends contend
on the gory fields for the rights of freemen, we would gladly as-
sist in every way within the sphere of woman's influence. Will-
ingly will we deny ourselves the luxuries of life — aye, even the
bare necessities — and count us happy to be able to aid them in
the glorious cause of our country's independence. We claim a
share in the lives of our brave countrymen; they are fighting
for our common, rights — we with willing hearts, if feeble hands,
are engaged in the soul-inspiring cause. We expect not, nor do
we wish a voice in the councils of our nation; ours is not the am-
bition that would grasp the sword and take our places in the
serried ranks of the battle field; we would only labor that our sol-
diers lack nothing that can be provided, and pray that our faith
in the God of Battles may be undiminished in the hour of adversity.
(Signed) "A REBEL DAUGHTER OF ALABAMA."
This was the spirit that animated the women of the
South and gave faith and courage to the men at the
The women of the South toiled unceasingly for the
soldier boys ; they nursed them in sickness, wept when
they died, and even down to this distant day they scatter
choicest flowers on their graves with each recurring
springtime; they begged for them; they sewed and knit-
ted for them; they suffered, uncomplainingly, hardships,
losses and privations; they wore "homespun" dresses;
they made their own hats from palmetto; they made
their own shoes, and knitted their own gloves and stock-
ings; they drank cofi'ee made of wheat, okra or parched
sweet potatoes, and tea made of raspberry leaves. They
cared for the children and slaves, and in many instances
superintended the plantations.
And such women as these have been called indolent
and self-indulgent, incapable of meeting the hard, stern
realities of the world! In the annals of the past there
will not be found a record of more helpful, energetic,
MEXICAN WAR VETERANS 49
courageous, self-reliant women than those of the South
in the dark and gloomy days of adversity.
While their hopes and endeavors were in vain, yet they
had the proud satisfaction of knowing that they had dis-
charged their duty faithfully, and that their endeavors
were in the interest of the cause of which Earl Derby
"No nation rose so white and fair,
None fell so free of crime."
Mexican War Veterans.
In 1846 the United States and Mexico got into a dis-
pute about the boundary line of Texas — Texas claiming
the Rio Grande as the southwestern limit of her boun-
dary, and Mexico contending that the line was the
Uneces. A two years' war was the result of the dis-
agreement, at the end of which period Mexico was whip-
ped and signed a treaty of peace, in which she ceded all
the land claimed by Texas, and also the territory com-
prising New Mexico, Arizona and California — for the
latter territory the United States generously paid Mexico
sixteen and a half million dollars.
There were a number of Greensboro people who took
part in what is known as the "Mexican War." Captain
Andrew L. Pickens organized a company of volunteers
in Hale county, the company being composed of 108 mem-
bers. It left Greensboro for the war on the 27th day
of May, 1846. Those who joined the Greensboro "Inde-
pendent Volunteers" in the town were: John L. Croom,
E. B. Boast, B. F. Croom, E. A. Wemyss, Jesse J. Mel-
ton, P. E. Wolfe, G. A. Dew, John B. Hardaway, Chas.
H. Foster, H. Kotch, P. Moss, Christopher Owen, Rich
Haynie, H. Williamson, Jas. S. Simmons, Jas. M. Smith,
J. W. Hawkins, S. Wm. Morris, J. L. May, John Mar-
shall, W. A. Bell, S. H. W. Inge, Nat M. Murphy, John
Witherspoon, Wm. P. Evans, G. W. Briggs, W. Thomp-
50 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
son, Powell McDonald, James N. Wood, F. M. Harriss,
A. Evans, Wm. H. Fowler, J. R. Capell, Richard Croom,
S. P. DuBois, D. M. Barkley, Andrew J. Briggs, Thos.
H. Cowin, Archelaus A. Cochran, Taylor McDonald, Jas.
J. Jetter; Edward H. Toney, F. B. Moss, David Turner,
Jr., John S. Rhodes, Jerry Seale, John Fink.
John L. Croom and Jesse J. Melton, so far as can be
learned, are the only surviving members of this com-
pany — sixty-two years after its organization.
COL. JAMES D. WEBB,
Who was Colonel of the 51st Alabama Regiment of cavalry. He
was killed in battle at Shelbyville, Tenn . July 19, 1863. He is
buried in Winchester, Tenn. Just nrior to his death he was
promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, but did not live
to receive his commission. He was for a number of years a
prominent lawyer in Greensboro.
A THRILLING INCIDENT OF THE RECONSTRUC-
Those were troublous times in the Southern country
directly after the close of the war between the States.
While the South was not treated altogether as a sub-
jugated province — that is to say, to the extent of the
lands being confiscated by the victors, yet they deemed
it necessary to send thousands upon thousands of armed
troops to the various towns and cities, whose duty it was
to maintain general supervision of the affairs of the
country. Occasionally one will meet a Northerner who
has come to the conclusion in his own mind that in real-
ity the South was treated very leniently by his section,
and he will point with pride to the fact that the people
of the South were allowed to retain their lands and houses
and personal property of varioiis kinds, in contradistinc-
tion from the hitherto rule of war which dictated the
taking possession of everything in the conquered terri-
tory, and the proceeds made to swell the coffers of the
victors. But nevertheless, it is a historical fact that
the policy pursued by the United States government dur-
ing the period of Reconstruction came very near com-
pletely wrecking all that was left in the South after the
four years of war.
But these remarks are simply made for the purpose
of leading up to an incident full of thrilling and dra-
matic interest that transpired in Greensboro in 1865.
At that time there were three companies, containing
three hundred soldiers, camped in the town, with the
object of keeping "order," and seeing to it that affairs
52 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
were conducted as the general government at Washing-
ton thought they should be.
On the morning of August 31st, 1865, three Federal
soldiers from this camp were seen strolling leisurely up
the Main street of Greensboro. When they came to the
general merchandise store of Robert B. Waller, Jr., —
located two doors west of the present Masonic Hall
building — they entered, and called for some fruit, which
was passed over to them. They stood around chatting
with each other and eating the fruit, and when they
were about to leave the store, Mr. Waller asked for the
price of their purchase, which they refused to pay, and
with an oath left the store and continued on up the
street. The merchant felt outraged over the treatment,
and upon going to the door he saw the Captain of the
Company to which the men belonged standing in front
of the Tunstall building, and he immediately went to
him and reported the conduct of his men. The Captain
asked Waller to point the offenders out to him, which
he did. He called them to him, and demanded, in a most
positive manner, that they pay for the goods at once;
and he further informed them that if he ever heard of
their being guilty of like conduct he would have them
tied up by their thumbs.
The soldiers paid the money rather reluctantly, looked
very sullen, but said nothing. Dismissing the matter
from his mind, Mr. Waller returned to his store and
began to wait on customers who had come in during his
Sitting in front of the store, enjoying the bright sun-
shine, was Robert Jeffries, and in his lap was seated
W. S. (Tood) Cowin, a young man who had seen much
service in the Confederate army. After consulting to-
gether up the street the three soldiers, who had been
made to pay the debt they owed Waller, came back to
the store, and without a word of warning one of the men,
Jos. Adams, of Co. H, 11th Missouri Infantry, struck
A THRILLING INCIDENT
Cowin a most vicious blow in the face with a slung shot
— mistaking him (it is supposed) for the merchant who
had reported the men to the Captain. Writhing with
pain from the sudden and unexpected blow, and with
the gleam of a tiger in his eyes, Cowin sprang from his
seat, drew his pistol and fired on his assailant, but miss-
BUILDING IN FRONT OF WHICH DIFFICULTY BEGAN.
*Tood" Cowin was sitting near the large door to the left when
struck by Federal soldier.
ed him. Adams retreated hastily across the street to-
wards Stollenwerck's drug store, and as he retreated
he looked back to watch Cowin. When he had nearly
reached the opposite sidewalk, Cowin steadied his pistol
54 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
by laying it across his left arm, took deliberate aim and
remarked, "Now d n you, I'll get you," pulled the
trigger and sent a ball crashing through the brain of
Adams, who fell dead in his tracks.
When Cowin fired the first shot and missed his man,,
another of the Federal soldiers, S. Bryant of Co. D, 11th
Missouri Regiment, who was standing near, quickly pull-
ed his pistol and was in the act of shooting him at close
range, when Tom Cowin, a brother of "Tood" shot
Bryant down before he could get his pistol in position.
The ball entered his side, and he fell in the gutter. The
wound, while quite severe, did not prove fatal.
The pistol shots soon attracted a large crowd to the
street, and in a short while the soldiers began to pour
into the town from the camp, which was located in the
rear of the residence of Col. George Erwin. They raged
and swore and were beside themselves with anger when
they learned what had transpired, and demanded, in their
frenzy, to.be shown the man who had killed their comrade.
Cowin saw the storm gathering and walked off down
the street, but before he had gone a great many steps-
he was recognized by some Federals who had witnessed
the difficulty, and a number of the soldiers made for him,
but Cowin faced them and kept them at bay by present-
ing the ugly looking weapon with which he had killed
the man who was lying in the street a short distance
away. When he had walked sidewise to Powers' store,
keeping the men back with the presented pistol, he no-
ticed a horse hitched in front of the store — a magnificent
animal that had been ridden into town that morning by
some one from Gen. Cocke's plantation, to whom the
horse belonged. She was a thoroughbred racer, and
many times had come down the home-stretch a winner
on the race-track. Now fully realizing his great dan-
ger, Cowin sprang from the sidewalk, cut the bridle
reins, leaped into the saddle and clapped his heels into
the sides of the splendid charger. With a snort of fright
A THRILLING INCIDENT 55
at the unexpected treatment, she reared and then bounded
away as if on the wings of the wind, while the air re-
sounded with the angry shouts of the soldiers calling
to those past whom the horse and rider were sweeping,
to "stop him! Stop him!"
Seeing that the man they most desired to capture was
about to elude their grasp, half a dozen or more soldiers
quickly secured horses and started in pursuit at break-
neck speed. On and on sped the thoroughbred racer.
She was in her element, and seemed to enjoy the wild
dash down the public highway. And wildly and fur-
iously also rode the pursuers. But only once or twice
did they catch even a glimpse of horse and rider as they
sped down some long, straight stretch of road, and then
the crack of their pistols rang out on the air — but only
with the effect of causing the noble racer to quicken her
pace just a little. When about six miles out of town —
to the westward — Cowin checked his horse and looked
around to see if he could catch a glimpse of his pursuers,
but no trace of them could be discovered. He then left
the main road, and went into a thicket on a hill overlook-
ing the surrounding country. From this position, a short
while afterwards, he saw his pursuers, with horses under
whip and spur, pass on down the road, and also saw them
when on their return from their fruitless effort to cap-
ture or kill him. The next day, Cowin was in Mississippi.
Pandemonium reigned on the streets of Greensboro.
Tom Cowin, who had wounded the soldier who had un-
dertaken to shoot his brother, passed rapidly through Wal-
ler's store — the doors being shut behind him by some
one within — went into the back yard and came out to
Main street near Powers' store. He was recognized by
the Federals, and was immediately taken in charge by
an angry mob, who swore they would hang him at once.
A proposition was submitted that if they would wait un-
til sundown, an effort would be made to have his brother
"Tood" come in and give himself up, which proposition
56 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
was agreed to; but the half dozen soldiers who had re-
turned from the pursuit had but little hope that he
would ever be overtaken, for they reported that they
had ridden hard and furiously after him, but to no
avail — that all traces of him were lost.
Then Captain Kelley stepped to where the dead sol-
dier was lying in the street, placed his sword across the
body, and with a terrible oath swore that if the man
who had slain his comrade was not delivered up to the
soldiers by the going down of the sun, then, by all the
gods, he purposed to hang Tom Cowin, and burn and
sack the town.
Squads of soldiers were deputized to go to every house
in Greensboro and take therefrom all weapons, and to
disarm all the citizens. Realizing the extreme gravity
of the situation, and that the town was entirely at the
mercy of the frenzied Federals, some of the citizens
slipped a runner out of town on a fleet horse to Marion,
Ala., where the colonel of the regiment (Lieut.-Col.
Green), was stationed at that time.
While awaiting the delivery of "Tood" Cowin to them
by the citizens, the soldiers broke open Waller's store,
where the difficulty began, and threw all the goods into
the street. As the hours passed by the soldiers drank
more freely of whiskey, grew more turbulent, and it
seemed to those who had sent the messenger to Marion
that he would never return. Minutes seemed hours.
The sun began to sink in the west, and still the man
the soldiers so much desired to get into their possession
did not appear. They placed a rope around Tom Co-
win's neck led him in front of the hotel — which his
father kept — threw one end over a sign board, and stood
facing the west, watching for the going down of the sun.
Cowin's father stood by and urged him to die like a man,
and he replied that he proposed to do so. Not a tremor
passed over him, and not a trace of fear could be dis-
A THRILLING INCIDENT 57
cerned in his face as he looked defiance at those who had
him at their mercy.
When hope had gone, and the citizens thought the
very worst would happen, the sound of horses' feet was
heard, and looking eastward, they saw approaching at
breakneck speed, two horses with distended nostrils and
flecked with foam, drawing a buggy in which were two
men — one of them proving to be the Colonel of the Regi-
ment. Hastily alighting from the vehicle, he pushed his
way into the midst of the vast crowd of angry, turbulent
soldiers, and went to where Cowin was standing with the
rope around his neck. With fire in his eye, and anger
in his tone, he demanded of the Captain what he meant
by allowing those under his command to be guilty of
such conduct. The Captain related the circumstances of
the killing of one soldier and the wounding of another
by the Co wins, and said he thought he was justifiable.
The Colonel replied that it was contrary to military law
to hang a man without giving him the benefit of a court-
martial, and that he might consider himself under arrest.
Turning to the troops, he ordered them to fall into
ranks. Some of them began to murmur disapproval.
The Colonel stepped into the street, drew his pistol, and
again commanded them in a loud voice to "fall in," and
swore that the first man who refused to obey the com-
mand would be shot dead in his tracks. This seemed
to restore their reason; they fell into ranks and were
marched back to camp.
The rope was removed from Tom Cowin's neck and
he was also taken to the camp, where he was held as a
prisoner. Frank Peterson (Dr. Francis M. Peterson,
former President of the Girls' Industrial School at Mon-
tevallo, who died March 21, 1908) went out to the camp
and was permitted to spend the night with his friend.
The next day, Cowin was taken to Tuscaloosa under
heavy guard, and placed in prison, to await trial for
58 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
shooting the federal soldier (from which he subsequently
There is a bit of romance connected with his escape
from prison, which shows the devotion of the Southern
woman to the Confederate soldier, A beautiful young
lady, who was a staunch friend of Cowin's, set herseli
to work to liberate him.
She was very pretty and most charming and fas-
cinating in her manners. The young lieutenant, who
was in charge of the prisoners, fell in love with this
sweet Southern girl, and as the two strolled about the
streets of classic old Tuscaloosa, or watched the placid
flow of the river hard by the city, she would plead with
him earnestly to allow Cowin, the friend of her child-
hood, to escape from prison. For days and days, and
time and again the young officer refused to grant the
petition — stating that his honor and his position would
not permit him to do so. Finally the young lady told
him that she would never consent to marry him until
her friend was a free man, and reinforced the statement
by telling the officer never to see her again. A short
time after this, Cowin was missing from prison. How
he escaped or whither he went, no one knew.
It would be a pleasing close to this bit of romance
to be able to state that the young lady married the young
officer — or at least that she married her friend for whom
she pleaded — but the truth of history requires it to be
said that she did neither, but in the after years married
Neither of the Cowins was ever captured by the Fed-
eral officers. As the years passed on, and affairs quieted
down, both of them returned to Greensboro, and re-
sided here for quite a while — "Tood" Cowin died in the
town a few years after the killing of the soldier; and
Tom Cowin, after keeping the Greensboro Hotel for some
time, went to Birmingham, where he kept a hotel. From
there he went to Anniston, where he died June 27, 1890.
A THRILLING INCIDENT 59
Both the men were Confederate soldiers, and were brave
and courageous at all times. They are buried in the
It was never known certainly what influence was used
to secure the safety of the Cowins after they had shot
the soldiers, as related above, but it developed, in the
course of time, that their father, who was quite well-to-
do at the time of the trouble, had parted with nearly all
his worldly possessions — and it was whispered about that
he had let somebody have in the neighborhood of twenty
thousand dollars — possibly in the nature of a loan.
As the last words of this bit of tragic history are pen-
ned, we pause for a few moments and look out upon the
streets where, nearly half century ago, men were
crazed, and, in their fearful passion, raged and surged
like the mighty waves when the wind is at war with
the ocean. But a far different scene from that presents
itself to view. True, there stands the self-same building
in which the awful tragedy begun ; and there, too, stands
the self-same hotel before which the angry soldiers stood
with halter around the neck of their intended victim,
watching for the going down of the sun; the same blue
sky bends above, and the same sun they watched has
continued to make his rounds through all the many days
that have gone to swell the mighty volume of the past
since that far-off time.
But no discordant note is heard — no soldiers' tread, no
clang of arms nor shrill note of bugle call. Only a scene
of beauty and quiet activity greets the gaze. The trees
are just awakening from their long winter's sleep and
are putting on their garb of green ; the birds make merry
in the boughs, heedless of the ebb and flow of the human
tide beneath ; men go about their business, or stand here
and there in groups and chat pleasantly together ; bevies
of beautiful girls, with smiling faces and queenly step,
pass up and down the streets where once tumult and
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
riot reigned supreme; while childhood's merry peals of
laughter come in at the open window.
And then it is that we fully realize that a new genera-
tion has appeared upon the stage of action — a generation
that is the successor to the noblest and truest of which
the South can boast in all its glorious history — one whose
deeds of valor and patriotism will live in song and story
for ages yet unborn. And with the ushering in of the
present generation, sectional strife and bitterness have
passed away. It is a generation (while doubting the
wisdom of the course pursued by the authorities at Wash-
ington in their treatment of the Southern people during
those half dozen dark and gloomy years immediately suc-
ceeding the close of the war) who rejoice in a re-
united country, and would seal its devotion to the Stars
and Stripes by defending the honor of the Flag on the
battlefield ; yet, it is a generation that looks with pride
and approval upon the conduct of their forefathers in
their noble defence of the Stars and Bars, and a genera-
tion that will ever treasure that conduct as the richest
heritage to which it has fallen heir.
THE GREENSBORO HOTEL.
(Property of J. A Blunt.)
THE KU KLUX KLAN 61
The Kii Kliix Klan.
During reconstruction times in Greensboro, and in
fact, throughout the South, what was known as the Loyal
League was organized by Northern adventurers who
came, like a swarm of vultures, to prey upon what was
left in this section from the wreck of the war. The ob-
ject of this league was to enlist all negroes in an oath-
bound society pledging them to support the Radical can-
didates for office and the measures they advocated. Soon
the affairs of government passed out of the hands of
those who by right should have filled the offices, and un-
der the administration of these unscrupulous men, who
had been elevated to position by the votes of the ignorant
and vicious negroes, who had been released from slavery
only a short while, life in Greensboro and the South gen-
erally became almost unbearable. Some answer, it was
realized, must be given the Loyal League, and it was
found in the Ku Klux Klan. This order was composed of
the native white men of the South — many of whom, in fact
most of them, had served in the Confederate army. They
were a determined body, and resolved to rid the country
of the objectionable characters that had flocked in by
the score with the hope of adding gain to their worldly
wealth. They, too, had an oathbound society, and to
this good day, (forty years after) the secrets of the Ku
Klux Klan have not been told. They are known to a few
survivors of the brotherhood, but they rarely discuss the
matter with anyone. These men had the good of their coun-
try at heart, and only disciplined those characters who
fermented strife between the races, and endangered the
safety of the community. Their mission was not mur-
der, as has been charged by those who came, possibly,
under the ban of their displeasure, but was corrective
in its nature. They would take a man out — it mattered
not whether he was white or black — and give him a
sound thrashing, and order him to mend his conduct.
62 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
The lesson was generally heeded, and but little trouble
ever came from anyone who had been waited upon by
members of this Klan.
There surrounded the Ku Klux that atmosphere of
mystery that is ever appalling to humanity. They al-
ways arrayed themselves in a peculiar garb, consisting
of a white robe, and covered their faces with a white
mask. Their horses were blanketed in white, and as they
silently rode through the street or down some lonely road
at the dead of night, the evil-doers trembled with fear.
It was seldom that an order was ever issued, or a word
spoken. Those who had the real interest of their re-
spective communities at heart hailed the presence of the
Ku Klux with joy, while the ignorant and vicious, who
cared not for the welfare of the town or country, stood
in awe and dread.
The Ku Klux first made their appearance in Greens-
boro in March, 1868, and their presence was made known
by hand bills that were posted up at various places on
the streets. The following was the
KU KLUX KLAN ORDER.
K. K. K.
CLOUDY MOON— LAST HOUR,
Special Order No. 92 — Shrouded Bi-otherhood of
Hale Division, No. 314.
The Great Past High Giant commands you. The dark and dis-
mal hour will soon be here. Some live to-day, to-morrow die.
Be Ye Ready! The whetted sword, the bullet red — and right ai'e
ours. Be vigilant and firm. Dare not wear the holy garb of our
mystic brotherhood save in quest of Blood. Mark well our friends.
Let the guilty beware. Everywhere our brotherhood appears.
II. Burst your cerement asunder! Meet at the den! "The
glow of the worm shows the motion to be near." Silence! Watch-
fulness! Patience! Faithfulness! The guilty SHALL BE pun-
By order of Great Grand Cyclops,
Samivel, N. S. O. E. T.
THE KU KLUX KLAN 63
Headquarters Cyclops Circle, Spirit Cove, March 15, '68.
Grand Cyclops, Hale County, Ala.:
Sprinkle ye the tombs with Blood! Brothers of the shroud take
heed, and enforce ye these orders. Blood! Blood! Blood! Re-
venge! Revenge! Revenge! Let the guilty beware, the day
of retribution is at hand — BLOOD is our motto! Look wild
Shrouds of Hale and enforce all these orders.
(A. M. U.) Grand Cyclops. K. K. K. Life Extinguishers.
Notices of like character appeared in nearly all the
towns of Alabama, and it was not long before the mili-
tary authorities of the United States undertook to crush
the Klan. Stringent orders were issued from the head-
quarters at Montgomery, declaring that "outrages
against life, the peace and good order of the community"
were being perpetrated by a "band disguised with masks
and styling itself the Ku Klux Klan," and constituted a
public evil. The sheriffs, mayors, marshals, magistrates,
constables, chiefs of police, and police, the order declared,
would be held responsible for the suppression of the
organization, and the apprehension of its members wher-
ever found. All placards and newspaper cards of the
Ku Klux Klan were placed under the ban, and dire pun-
ishment was threatened all who failed to aid the military
authorities in disbanding the Ku Klux. The order issu-
ing from Montgomery on April 4, 1868, was signed by
0. L. Shepherd, Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General,
and W. T. Hartz, Brevet Major, U. S. A.
One would naturally suppose that such an order, back-
ed by all the power of the United States government,
would have had the effect of causing the Ku Klux to
immediately disband, but such was not the case. Con-
ditions were such in this section during the reconstruction
period that the men composing the organization had
rather have died than to have sit idly down and passively
endured them without a protest. The Klan continued to
exist for several years after the issuance of the stren-
uous orders, in nearly all the Southern States.
While much of evil is charged to the account of the Ku
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Klux Klan as a whole, there is no doubt that the branch
organization that existed in Greensboro accomplished
much good in the matter of bringing about a more endur-
able condition of affairs in Greensboro and Hale county.
It filled its mission, and quietly passed out of existence.
THE OLD CONFEDERATE MONUMENT.
Erected in 1872 in the Greensboro Cemetery.
After several years of agitation and earnest work, the
citizens of Greensboro raised a sufficient amount to pur-
chase a modest monument, and erected it in the Greens-
boro cemetery to the memory of the Confederate soldiers.
The work was completed in March, 1872. and the treas-
urer, Mr. Charles E. Waller, reported the total cost of
the monument, including erection, to be $204.50. On
66 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
the 26th of the following April, the monument was duly
dedicated. The following account of the proceedings
was written for The Beacon by the late Col. Harvey, then
editor of that paper :
"Pursuant to a custom which has been observed for five or six
years, Friday, the 26th of April, was observed by the citizens of
Greensboro as the day for decorating the graves of those Con-
federate soldiers whose remains were interred in our cemetery.
"A procession was formed at the Presbyterian church, about
4 p m., composed of the Sunday School scholars of the different
churches, the Greensboro Brass Band, and Fire Company, and
the citizens of the place generally, in the following order:
Greensboro Brass Baiid.
Greensboro Fire Company, with Banner.
Orator, ivith Committee of Citizens.
Presbyterian Sunday School.
Methodist Sunday School.
Episcopal Sunday School.
Citizens on Foot.
Carriages ivith Citizens.
"Col. Allen C Jones, as Marshal of the occasion, marched the
procession through Main street to the cemetery, where a stand
had been erected for the speaker and where a large crowd had
collected in advance of the procession.
"The ceremonies of the occasion wei'e opened with prayer, by
the Rev R. H. Cobbs — after which. Col. Jones introduced John
T. Walker, Esqr., as the orator.
"Mr. Walker's address was highly appropriate, chaste, beauti-
ful and eloquent.
"Through the praiseworthy efforts of a few of our citizens —
prominent among whom are Dr. Jas. D. Osborn. Chas. E. Waller,
Esqr., Mrs. Dr. Ward. Miss Julia Tutwiler and Miss Mary Jack-
son — a handsome marble monument has been erected in the Greens-
boro cemeterv, having inscribed upon it the names of those Con-
federate soldiers, from this place or vicinitv who lost their lives
in battling for the "Lost Cause" — so dear to them and to those
who now revere and honor their memories. The monument was
decorated with beautiful wreaths of flowers and evergreens."
Thirty-two years after the erection of the monument
in the cemetery— that is to say, in April, 1904 — the
beautiful monument on the Court House square was com-
pleted. It represents much labor on the part of the
Ladies' Memorial Association of Greensboro, who for
many years worked to raise the necessary amount to pay
for it. The cost was about $1,500.00.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS 67
On May 12th, 1904, the monument was duly unveiled
with appropriate ceremonies. Mrs. Mary G. Pickens,
Chairman of the Committee and Treasurer of the Mon-
ument Fund, read the report from the Memorial Asso-
ciation, the concluding portion of which was as follows :
"We commend the monument to the loving care of the Memorial
Association, Daughters of the Confederacy and Veterans. It is
placed on a spot given for that purpose by the Hale county com-
missioners, and we give it into the sacred care and protection of
our Mayor and Town Authorities and our entire community, and
sincerely thank all who have helped us in any way.
Mrs. R. J. Nelson,
Miss Martha Young,
Miss Mary E. Avery,
Mrs. C. J. Pierce,
Mrs. Mary G. Pickens."
Wm. E, W. Yerby accepted the monument in behalf of
the town as follows :
"Ladies of the Memorial Association :
In behalf, and in the name of the Mayor and Council of the
town of Greensboro, we accept the beautiful monument you have
here erected in memory of our Confederate soldiers, and pledge
the city's honor to throw arovmd it that care and protection it
may demand, for we realize that this shaft of granite and marble
represents many years of labor on your part, and it silently speaks,
in strains as sweet as angels use, of your love and devotion to
the memory of those heroes whose valor and patriotism fill one
of the brightest pages of the world's history. Nearly forty long
and eventful years have passed away since the close of that bloody,
fratricidal strife, but the memory of the gallant deeds and heroic
conduct of the boys who wore the gray, is as fresh and green in
the hearts of our fair and beautiful women as if the tragic event
in our counti-y's history had happened only yestei-day. To you all
honor and praise!
While we need no columns of brass or of stone to cause us to
remember our heioic dead, nor to remind us of our duty to those
who were their companions in arms on many hard fought battle
fields, yet it is mete and proper that our love for them, and the
cause for which they fought, should be expressed in tangible form,
so that those who come among us from afar may know we revere
their memory and gallant deeds, and that their glory shall never
be forgotten "while fame her record keeps, or honor points to the
hallowed spot where valor proudly sleeps."
"Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell
When many a vanquished age hath flown
The story how they fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Nor Time's remorseless doom
Shall dim one ray of glory light
That gilds their deathless tomb."
Ex-Governor Wm, C. Gates then delivered a patriotic
oration, at the close of which the stature of the Confed-
erate soldier adorning the top of the monument was un-
veiled, and the ceremonies ended.
THE NEW CONFEDERATE MONUMENT.
Erected in 1904 in front of the Court House.
There has been but one raih'oad in Greensboro
— known at present as the Akron branch of the South-
ern Railway. It was projected by the late General N. B.
Forrest, the famous Confederate cavalry leader, who
was quite a familiar figure on the streets of Greensboro
during the latter part of the sixties and the early seven-
ties. The road was formerly known as the Selma, Ma-
rion & Memphis Railroad, and also as the Selma & Mo-
In 1869, the town of Greensboro issued $15,000 worth
of bonds to aid in the construction of the road to this
place. A direct tax was put on the citizens to pay in-
terest on the bonds and to provide a sinking fund to pay
off the indebtedness. The obligation has been met.
There are at present only a few thousand dollars worth
of the old bonds outstanding against the town.
In this connection it will be of interest to note that the
County of Hale also voted a bond issue of $60,000 in
1869 to aid in the building of the road. All of said bonds
— principal and interest — have been paid in full by the
citizens of Hale — who were taxed directly for the pur-
pose for about thirty-five years.
The railroad was completed to Greensboro on Novem-
ber 4th, 1870 — work having been suspended on it for
some months when it reached Newbern, nine miles below
Greensboro, to which place the citizens went by hack to
catch the train going to Selma, until the trains begun to
make the trip from this point — and the laying of the
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO. ALA.
last rail was celebrated by a grand barbecue and public
speaking by prominent Greensboro people. General For-
rest, the President of the road, was present, and was
very highly commended for his indomitable energy in
successfully completing the work under so many adverse
It was hoped that the line would be at once extended
to the then objective point, (Eutaw) but for twelve years
Greensboro was practically the terminus of the road.
It was not until 1882 that the road was completed ta
GEN. NATHANIEL BEDFORD FORREST.
From a portrait in possession of his descendants in Memphis,
Tenn., and regarded by them as the only good likeness in
Akron and the first train was run to that point. There
it connects with the Alabama Great Southern Railroad,
and at Selma it connects with the Southern Railway to
Rome, Ga., and Meridian, Miss.
As stated above, General Forrest was quite a familiar
figure on the streets of Greensboro during the construc-
tion of the railroad. He was a man who carried with him
into his business life all those extraordinary physical,
moral and intellectual qualities that distinguished him as
a soldier. He was of commanding presence — being about
six feet, two inches in height, and before his health was
impaired by wounds received on the battlefields and by
hard marches, his weight was one hundred and eighty
to ninety pounds. In physical strength he was a match
for a prize ring champion. His hair was jet black, his
skin dark, eyes blue and mild enough till the devil within
was aroused, and then they flashed green. He was the
idol of the soldiers during the war, but as a business man
he made many enemies by his overbearing and dictato-
rial manner. Some eminent men have adjudged that For-
rest was really the greatest genius developed by the war
between the States, so far as generalship was concerned.
After completing his railroad work in this section, he
moved to Memphis, Tenn., where he died some years ago.
The following incident in reference to the signing of
the bonds issued by Hale County to aid in the construc-
tion of the railroad by General Forrest, is worthy of note :
After the $60,000 worth of bonds were printed, the pro-
bate judge of the county refused to sign them as required
by law. General Forrest employed an attorney and de-
manded to be heard in the probate court in regard to
the matter. A session of the court was called, the pro-
bate judge took his seat on the bench, and the General's
lawyer arose and made a very learned and exhaustive
argument on the subject of the judge's duty to sign the
bonds. In the course of the argument the attorney used
many high-sounding legal phrases— such as "nunc pro
tunc," "nolens volens," "amicus curiae," etc. The judge^
who, by the way, was not a lawyer, seemed to get very
angry as the lawyer indulged in these Latin phrases. At
72 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
the conclusion of the lengthy argument the judge said
in a very determined manner, addressing the plaintiff's
"Sir, I don't give a damn about your nunc pro tunes,
your nolens volenses or your amicus curis. I am not
going to sign them bonds!"
The announcement aroused the anger of the lawyer,
and he jumped up and started for the judge, who quick-
ly reached under his desk and pulled a six shooter and
held it on the astonished limb of the law.
As quick as a flash, Gen. Forrest, who was sitting near
the judge, grabbed the pistol from his hand, caught him
by the collar, dragged him from the bench and very quiet-
ly said :
"Wall, Jedge, I don't care a damn whether you sign
them bonds nunc pro tunc, nolens volens or amicus curi ;
you are going to sign 'em. Come along in here with me!"
And the general led the judge into an ante-room, where
they remained about half an hour.
When they came back into the court room the judge
was smiling and at once signed the bonds.
What took place in the little private conference between
Gen. Forrest and the judge will never be known.
General Forrest was probably the most daring and
successful cavalry leader on either side in the civil war.
He had the confidence of his men in a large degree, and
they willingly followed him in his desperate encounters
with the Federals. There were a number of cavalrymen
from Greensboro and Hale county in his command — Dr.
S. C. Carson, Dr. L. D. Webb and Judge W. C. Christian
of the number.
Dr. Carson relates that while Forrest's cavalry was in
camp at Ebenezer church, near Plantersville, Alabama,
seventeen Federal soldiers made a sudden charge upon
the Confederate lines, taking them wholly by surprise.
The Doctor says he saw General Forrest rush forward
to the encounter with a pistol in each hand and shoot down
three of the enemy. The seventeen Federals, the Doctor
says, were as brave men as ever v^ent upon a battlefield.
They asked no quarter and gave none. It was a fool-
hardy undertaking and everyone of them paid the penalty
with his life.
Col. L. J. Lawson and J. D. Hamilton enlisted in 1863
as members of Company B, 7th Alabama, Forrest's Ca-
valry, and were with the company until the end of the
war in 1865.
It is the concensus of opinion of the old soldiers of the
Confederacy now residing in this section, that if it had
not been for the aggressive and fearless manner in which
Forrest and his cavalry kept the Federals at bay, that
Greensboro, Marion, Eutaw and other towns m this part
of Alabama would have been destroyed by the enemy.
The Federals did not get to Greensboro during the four
years of the war.
In February, 1854, the Planters' Insurance Company
was incorporated in Greensboro, Books for subscription
to the capital stock were opened March 17th, 1854, and
stock to the amount of $130,000 was subscribed. Henry
Watson, Esq., was the President. The company did a
general insurance business and also a banking business,
and was the first banking establishment ever in the town.
It proved a great convenience to the citizens who had
formerly done their banking business with the commis-
sion merchants and banks of Mobile and Selma. At the
breaking out of the war between the States, in 1861, all
except $50,000 of the capital stock was returned to the
stockholders, this amount being retained to keep alive
the charter, and business was abandoned until better
times should arrive. The war lasted so long, and its
termination was so uncertain, that the company sold its
real estate and personal effects and closed out the entire
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
concern, paying to the stockholders the capital and sur-
plus in full. This was done in February, 1865. The
company was never revived, and for ten years Greens-
boro was without banking facilities. The Planters' In-
surance Company owned and did business in the store
house on Main street owned of more recent years by the
late W. G. Miller.
Who was a prominent citizen of Greensboro from 1838 to 1861.
He was a law partner of Hon. John Erwin and was also the
President of the fii'sc banking institution in the town. Died
in 1891 in Northampton, Mass.
As indicative of the scope of the business engaged in
by the Planters' Insurance Company, the following ad-
vertisement is copied from a publication of 1856:
PLANTERS' INSURANCE COMPANY.
Capital Stock $130,000.
This Company, located at Gi-eensboro. in Greene County, Ala-
bama, with a perpetual Charter, and a capital of $130,000, all paid
in and securely invested, will do a general Insurance Business.
Public buildings, stores, stocks of merchandise, dwelling houses,
gin houses and cotton warehouses, insured against loss by fire
at reasonable rates. River and Marine risks taken, and insurance
made upon the Lives of White Persons and of Slaves, and upon
live stock. The well known standing and safety of this Com-
pany, and its convenient location, it is believed, will secure to it
a preference where Insurance is desired. Money received on de-
posit with or without interest. Terms of deposit made known at
the office of the Company. Loans made upon Bills of Exchange
at 8 per centum per annum.
Gideon E. Nelson,
James A. Wemyss,
Board of Directors.
HENRY WATSON, President.
SERENO WATSON, Secretary.
Sereno Watson, the Secretary, after the liquidation of
the Planters' Insurance Company in Greensboro, went
to Massachusetts, and subsequently became a very dis-
tinguished botanist. At the time of his death, which oc-
curred at Cambridge, Mass., March 9, 1892, he was Cura-
tor of the Herbarium of Harvard College.
On January 1st, 1875, D. F. McCrary gave notice to
the public that he had opened an Exchange and Banking
office in Greensboro, and that he would buy and sell ex-
change on all points and would also receive money on
deposit and pay out same on checks free of charge. He
advertised that he had "one of the famous Speigle-eisen
Safes with combination lock."
Mr. McCrary continued in the banking business until
1881 when he was succeeded by Dr. A. Lawson, who con-
ducted the business until 1905 when "The Peoples Bank
of Greensboro, Alabama," was incorporated under the
laws of the State, with a capital stock of $50,000, of
which institution Dr. Lawson was made President by the
James B. Coleman conducted a bank in Greensboro
early in the "80's" but discontinued business in a few
76 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Shelby W. Chadwick also did a banking business for
some time, and was succeeded by M. Jones & Son, who,
in 1900, were succeeded by Lee M. Otts. After conduct-
ing the bank as a private banking institution for a few
years, Mr. Otts converted it into "The First National
Bank of Greensboro, Alabama," with a capital stock of
$50,000 and conducted it as such until 1904.
In 1894 "The Bank of Greensboro, Ala.," was organiz-
ed with Col. C. Derrick as President, who was succeeded
in 1896 by J. A. Blunt. It was conducted under this
name until 1904, when "The Bank of Greensboro" bought
out the First National Bank from Mr. Otts, and assumed
its name, and increased the capital stock from $50,000
to $100,000. Mr. Blunt was continued as President of
the First National Bank, and Mr. Charles Stollenwerck
was made cashier, both these gentlemen holding their
respective positions to the present time.
In more than half a century in the history of banking
in Greensboro, there has never been a bank failure, which
record speaks for itself and the gentlemen who have con-
ducted the institutions.
In April, 1871, A. H. Ravesies & Co., established a
cotton warehouse at the Greensboro depot, and conducted
it as such until they were bought out by A. C. Evans,
who for a number of years carried on the business of
storing cotton. Mr. Evans in turn was bought out by
Messrs. J. A. Blunt and T. R. Ward, who constructed a
large brick warehouse, most of the materials used there-
in being taken from the wreckage of the "Nelson House,"
the largest, most commodious and most beautiful resi-
dence ever constructed in Greensboro. It was built by
Gideon Nelson sometime in the latter part of the fifties,
at a cost of nearly a hundred thousand dollars.
The floors of the lower story were of the finest marble,
and the ceilings were frescoed by painters from abroad.
It was a gorgeous place. There were fountains in the
front yard, and rarest shrubbery and trees adorned the
place. The war wrecked the fortunes of the Southern
planters, and after Mr. Nelson's death the house passed
into the hands of various parties, and was finally torn
down and the materials, as before stated, were used in
the construction of the warehouse at the depot. In what
was the front yard to this splendid mansion, there are
now located some half dozen or more neat cottages. The
warehouse constructed of the Nelson home materials
was destroyed by fire in October, 1906, together with
a large amount of cotton, which was paid for by the
Southern Railway, as it was proven that a train on that
road caused the fire. The present commodious ware-
house is the successor to the one destroyed by fire. It
was built by Mr. J. A. Blunt in 1907, he having bought
out the interest of Mr. Ward in the business.
THE GREENSBORO FEMALE ACADEMY.
THE OLD GREENSBORO FEMALE ACADEMY.
The brick poi-tion has been standing for nearly three-quarters of
In December, 1839, a meeting was held in the Greens-
boro Lyceum by the subscribers to the building fund of
the Greensboro Female Academy. For a long while
prior to this time a female school had been conducted in
the same lot on which the Academy building now stands.
Judge Pasteur was principal and was assisted by Miss
Mary Lawson. Edwin Fay was the principal in 1839,
and possibly further back, but no records on the sub-
ject are available.
At this meeting of the subscribers to the building fund
the following board of trustees was elected : John Er-
win, chairman, J, M. Witherspoon, John May, James Mc-
GREENSBORO FEMALE ACADEMY 79
Donald, Matthew Hobson, Wiley J. Croom, and Robert
Waller. John Fife was made secretary of the board.
At the first meeting of this board of trustees, Edwin Fay
was elected as president of the Academy, and Miss Ruth
White as music teacher, and Dr. Bradford assistant
In 1840, a contract was let to Jesse Gibson and Clau-
dius Jones for $6,345 to make necessary "additions to the
present academy building." The work was finished in
1841, and in that year Edwin Fay resigned as president
of the Academy and Rev. Daniel P. Bestor was elected
to succeed him.
On December 29th, 1841, the act of the legislature
incorporating "The Greensboro Female Academy," was
approved. The incorporators mentioned in the Act were :
Robert C. Randolph, James M. Witherspoon, Daniel P.
Bestor, John May, James McDonald, Matthew Hobson,
and Robert B. Waller.
The school was among the best and most prosperous
in this section for a number of years, and was attended
by young ladies from many portions of Alabama. The
prescribed course of study the year of incorporation was :
Spelling, reading, writing, grammar, geography, mathe-
matics, philosophy, chemistry, history, logic, French,
Latin, drawing, painting, ornamental work and music.
A complete list of the presidents of the Greensboro
Female Academy is as follows : Judge Pasteur, Edwin
Fay, Rev. Daniel P. Bestor, C. J. D, Pryor, Rev. James C.
Mitchell, Rev. C. E. Brame, A. H. Hutchinson, N. T. Lup-
ton and J. C. Wills, Miss Julia Tutwiler, P. B. Capbell,
Miss Mary Avery (filled out unexpired term of P. B.
Capbell in 1874) Rev. Thomas Ward White, Rev. W. C.
Clark, D. P. Christenberry, J. B. Cassidy, Rev. W. G.
In 1876, Miss Bettie Lou Clark (afterwards Mrs. Pyr-
nell) the author of "Diddy, Dumps and Tot," a most pop-
ular book with children, was a teacher in this Academy.
80 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
From 1865 to 1871, the school was not opened on ac-
count of the stringency of the times immediately follow-
ing the close of the civil war, and really it was never
again as successful as it was prior to the war. It was
again closed from 1877 to 1883, when Mr. Clark took
charge of the institution. Some time during the inter-
vening six years the trustees of the AcacTemy opened
subscriptions for money with which to repair and make
additions to the building, and about $4,000 was raised
for this purpose. The large frame structure on the north
side of the brick portion of the Academy was added.
The last president was Dr. W. G. Keady, who gave the
school up in 1900, since which time the property has
been rented to the board of trustees of the Greensboro
Graded School, where a large and successful public school
has since been conducted.
The title to the property of the Greensboro Female
Academy is vested in the board of trustees of that insti-
tution, who, it would appear from the mtnutes of the
board, hold it in trust for the "stockholders" — said stock-
holders being composed of all those who contributed as
much as $25.00 towards the building fund. These stock-
holders held elections annually for the election of seven
trustees, to whom was turned over the management of
the property and the selection of a president.
The Greensboro Female Academy numbers many most
excellent women among its graduates, who are scattered
far and wide, and it was a source of regret to all when
the doors of the time-honored institution were closed.
In 1858, Miles Hassell Yerby, a graduate of the State
University at Tuscaloosa, came to Greensboro and taught
the first public school near the town of which any record
can be found. The school house was situated outside of
the corporate limits, northeast of Greensboro, across
PUBLIC SCHOOL 81
Caldwell creek. The school was attended by many
boys, who in after life, attained to prominence in the
affairs of church and state. The location of the school
was changed after the war, and the building on Centre-
ville street then known as the Gibson place, was used
for a long while as a school house. From the old record
before us for 1869, (the only one that could be found)
the following pupils were enrolled in the Greensboro
Public School for that year: Reuben C. Johnson, Frank
Johnson, Andrew W. Owens, Nelson Owens, Morris
Steinhart, Charlie Steinhart, Jeff D. Steinhart, Joe Stock-
ton, Willie Stockton, Joe Stokes, Dan Taylor, Milford
Harris, Filmore Norfleet, Will Miller, Jeff Evans, Willie
McGee, John Musy, John Yerby, Willie Yerby, Tom Tay-
lor, Syd Taylor, Alex Davis, Willie DuBose, Willie Kenan,
Ed Williamson, Steve Williamson, Albert Williamson,
Ed Bell, John Bell, Mary Herran, Bettie Sharon, Rosa
Sharon, Julia Wilburn, Fannie Owens, Sallie Owens, Bet-
tie Andrews, Lida Miller, Alice Sledge, Jessie Yerby, Bet-
tie McDonald, Ida Steinback, Sallie Blanton, Alice Blan-
The teachers of the public school have been, in all its
history, as follows : M. H. Yerby, Mrs. Mary Happel
and Mrs. M. A. Hutchinson, Miss Sallie Pasteur, Mrs.
J. M. Pickett and Miss Maggie Pickett, W. W. Lee, J. A.
The present school is known as "The GreensDoro Grad-
ed School," and is taught in the old Female Academy
building on Demopolis street. There is an attendance of
about 130 pupils, and besides the principal, there are
four assistant teachers.
The old school house on Centreville street presents
much the same appearance now it presented some forty
years ago, and the picture will no doubt be recognized
by many of the former pupils, scattered far and wide
over the face of the earth, into whose hands a copy of
this volume should chance to fall. But they will miss
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
the wide-spreading elm trees in the yard — only one of
the many now remaining, and it is gnarled, and the
branches have been broken and torn by the winds that
have angrily passed through them these many years.
They will also miss the stately poplars on the hillside
THE OLD PUBLIC SCHOOL HOUSE ON
just north of the building, and the forest trees and the
"big swamp" in the rear of the play ground. And the
flowers have blossomed and faded above the grave of
the highly educated and painstaking schoolmaster of the
old days for nearly ten years. He rests from life's labors
in the quiet city of the dead in Greensboro among loved
ones, friends and former pupils.
The same babbling brook is at the foot of the little
hill to the north of the house, but the shade trees and
the violets are gone, and the spot is no longer an invit-
ing place for the school boy to stroll side by side with
his first sweetheart and gather the wild flowers for
her — as the boys used to do in the years that are dead.
THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY.
The greater portion of the following brief history of
the Southern University was compiled by Prof. D, P.
Christenberry, Professor of English in the University.
The agitation which led to the founding of the South-
ern University began at the twenty-third session of the
Alabama Conference, Talladega, Ala., December, 1854.
At this Conference much enthusiasm was aroused.
In 1855 the Conference met at Eutaw. After much
debate it was decided to found a college at Greensboro,
and Col. John Erwin, of Greensboro, was appointed to
secure a charter of the legislature.
At the first meeting of the Board, March, 1856, at
Greensboro, were the following trustees : Bishops Jas.
0. Andrew and Robert Payne, Rev. Doctors T. 0. Sum-
mers, Archelaus H. Mitchell, Jeff'erson Hamilton, Philip
P. Nedy and Edward Wadsworth, Revs. Christopher C.
Callaviay, Joseph J. Hutchinson, Joshua T. Heard, Thos.
J. Koger, Lucius Q. C. DeYampert, Col. John Erwin,
John W. Walton, Thomas M. Johnston, RoTDert A. Baker,
Gideon E. Nelson, Doctors Thos. W. Webb and Gaston
Drake. In the charter appear in addition to the above
names the following: Judge Augustus A. Coleman,
Duke W. Goodman and Rev. Henry W. Hilliard.
Col. Erwin was called to the chair and presented the
charter dated January 26, 1856. The charter was se-
cured over the veto of Governor Winston.
At this, the first meeting, a report was made by the
agent, Rev. C. C. Callaway, showing that $168,500 had
86 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
been raised, $100,000 of which was secured by the en-
dorsement of L. Q. C. DeYampert, John Walton, Gideon
Nelson and others. The whole of this amount was se-
cured from Greene and Sumter counties. A site was
bought costing $6,400. During the next year, the agent
raised $40,508, having visited only eight counties.
At the second annual meeting, June 11, 1857, with
much pomp and splendor of military parade, bands and
music, the cornerstone was laid. Col. Wiley, Masonic
Grand Master of Alabama presided. Bishop Pierce and
Col. Milliard made the addresses.
The first session opened October 3, 1859, with the fol-
lowing faculty : Dr. William W. Wightman, President
and Professor Biblical Literature ; N. Thomas Lupton,
A. M., Professor of Chemistry; Oscar F. Casey, A. M.,
Professor of Ancient Languages ; Edward Wadsworth,
A. M., Professor of Moral Philosophy; John C. Wills, A.
M., Professor of Mathematics.
At the first commencement, the date of which was fixed
for the first Wednesday in July, 1860, Benjamin Huey,
of Talladega, and John V. Glass of Pickens county, grad-
uated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
The faculty in 1861 reported much excitement among
the boys on account of the war between the States, and
expressed diflficulty in preventing their going. The young
men had been drilled for service, to which slight objec-
tion is expressed by the Trustees.
The professors' salaries, which had been fixed at $1500,
were reduced one-half, and they were permitted to se-
cure additional work outside if possible.
During the entire session of '61 and '62 only $1150
was paid to the entire faculty, and they were praised
for standing by the University under the circumstances.
The institution did not close its doors during the war,
but the enrollment ran down to fourteen. Still instruc-
tion was given in all classes, at times chiefly by one
At the opening of the session in 1865 not a single
class could be formed, but Professor Casey, during the
year, gave instruction in classics to twenty young men.
There were forty-three in the Preparatory Department
under Professor Casey. Though the struggle through the
war was hard, it seems the doors were never closed.
Reconstruction was almost as hard as the period of
war. In 1867, the agent, the Rev. Mr. Callaway, re-
REV. ALLEN S. ANDREWS, D. D.,
Who was for a long while one of the most disting-uished Presidents
of the Southern University. He died at Union Springs, Ala.^
December 4, 1898, aged 74 years.
ported that $171,810.66 in notes was placed in his hands.
Of this amount $4,683 was collected in cash, $16,000
was renewed, $40,000 was classed as possibly good and
$75,000 as worthless. The magnificent endowment had
been swept away, leaving the school a lot of worthless
88 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
paper which was carried upon the book for years. The
buildings were intact and free from debt.
Hamilton Hall, the present dormitory, was secured in
1868 by the foreclosure of a mortgage held by the Uni-
The North Mississippi Conference adopted the South-
ern University as its college in 1870, and appointed six
trustees to sit on the Board. This adoption must have
been short lived, for no further mention is made in the
minutes of the Board of Trustees.
The seventies were the dark days in the history of the
school. Even the people of Greensboro thought the
school would close after the session of 1871-72. Some
of the buildings were placed under mortgage, and af-
terwards foreclosed. There was even some remote dan-
ger of the loss of the main building itself. But Chan-
cellor Luther Smith came from Emory College, Oxford,
Ga., at a great personal sacrifice because he thought the
service of the church called him, and infused new life
into the institution. The debts were wiped out, and the
institution was placed in a fair way to prosperity when
death removed the chancellor.
The second advent of Dr. Andrews as president, in
1883, marks the beginning of a remarkable period in
the history of the Southern University. In that year the
property became joint possession, in fee simple, of the
Alabama and North Alabama conferences. An era of
prosperity ensued. The largest attendance in the his-
tory of the institution was reached in 1889-90, 238 names
having been placed upon the matriculation book of that
The North Alabama Conference, at its session at Flor-
ence, on December 23, 1897, deeded back its interests in
the school to the original patron, the Alabama Confer-
Under the administration of Dr. J. 0. Keener much
was done towards the upbuilding of the school. The in-
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY 89
terior of the main building was greatly improved, and
the chapel remodeled into a beautiful auditorium,
A splendid gymnasium was erected on the campus in
In 1904 the plan of government was changed. All re-
strictions were removed, and the school placed upon the
honor system. The results have been highly gratifying.
Presidents of the Southern University.
Wm. W. Wightman, 1859-1867.
Edward Wadsworth, 1868-1870.
Allen S. Andrews, 1871-1875.
Luther M. Smith, 1875-1879.
Josiah Lewis, 1880-1881.
Francis M. Peterson ( acting president), 1881-1883.
Allen S. Andrews, 1883-1894.
John 0. Keener, 1894-1898.
Samuel M. Hosmer, 1899-to present.
Faculty of the Southern University.
Dr. Edward Wadsworth, A. M., 1859-70. Moral Phil-
N. Thomas Lupton, A. M., 1869-71. Chemistry.
0. F. Casey, A. M., 1869-76. Ancient Languages.
J. C. Wills, A. M., 1859-71. Mathematics.
J. A. Reubelt, 1860-'61. Modern Languages.
John S. Moore, A. M., 1871-'84. Mathematics.
D. M. Rush, A. M., 1872-74. Mathematics.
Dr. T. O. Summers, Jr., 1871-74. Chemistry.
L S. Hopkins, 1876-78. Science.
C. A. Grote, A. M., 1876-'94. Science and Modern Lan-
Rev. J. Lewis, Jr., 1875-'81. English.
C. M. Verdel, A. M., 1876-'81. Science.
F. M. Peterson, A. M., 1877-'99. Ancient Languages.
90 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
J. A. Moore, Ph. D., 1883-'94. Mathematics.
L. C. Dickey, 1883-'84. English and History.
Rev. J. F. Sturdivant, 1885-'90. English.
E. L. Brown, B. S., 1889-'03. Science.
C. L. McCartha, 1890-'92. English.
D. P. Christenberry, A. M., 1892. English.
L. P. Giddens, A. B., 1894-1907. Mathematics.
Rev. J. W. Shoaff, D. D., 1899-'02. Mental and Moral
J. T. Littleton, A. M., 1899. Modern Languages.
E. K. Turner, Ph. D., 1899-'03. Ancient Languages.
Andrew Sledd, Ph. D., 1903-'04. Greek.
E. L. Colebeck, M, A., 1902-1907. Ancient Languages.
B. P. Richardson, B. S., 1903. Science.
C. P. Atkinson, A. M., 1904. Mental and Moral Phil-
F. E. Chapman, A. M., 1907. Mathematics.
D. M. Key, A. M., 1907. Ancient Languages.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Greensboro.
The earliest records of this church were lost, and have
never been in the possession of the present generation,
nor that of the one this generation succeeds. This fact
is borne out by the following statement taken from the
minutes of the Quarterly Conference held on the 25th
of April, 1835:
"A. B. Sawyer, John DuBois and S. G. Field were ap-
pointed a committee to search for and arrange the rec-
ords of the church, and have them recorded." Evidently
these gentlemen failed to find the records, for there is
no further mention of the matter in any of the succeed-
ing minutes kept by the church officials. However, it is
known that as early as the year 1822 there was a Meth-
odist church in Greensboro. It stood where the negro
Methodists now have their brick church in the rear of
the Dr. Ward homestead. One among the first Methodist
ministers to preach in Greensboro was the Rev. Mr.
Some time between the years 1822 and 1833, Greens-
boro was made a station. The records from which this
history is compiled begin with the latter year, and at
that time Rev. Mr. Hearn was presiding elder of the
Greensboro district, and Rev. Robert L. Kenon was
preacher in charge at this place. The stewards were:
Robert Dickens and Franklin Shaw. The Revs. Hearn
and Kenon were succeeded in 1835 by Rev. E. V. LeVert,
92 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
presiding elder, and Rev. S. B. Sawyer, preacher in
At a meeting of the Quarterly Conference held March
11th, 1837, a committee, composed of Robert Dickens,
Thomas Johnston and Andrew Walker, was appointed
to take under consideration the necessity and expediency
of building a parsonage for the station. At the next
meeting of the Quarterly Conference, held June 10th,
1837, this committee reported, and recommended that a
parsonage be purchased as soon as possible, and asked
the Conference to allow them to open a subscription for
the purpose — subscriptions to be made payable the fol-
lowing January. The report was received, and the com-
mittee was urged to press the matter, but pending the
purchase of a suitable building. Dr. William Jones of-
fered the church the use of a house that stood just west
of the present Madison Jones lot, which offer was ac-
cepted, and for some years the Methodist ministers re-
sided there. The house was torn down ten or a dozen
years ago. Finally the Methodists decided to own their
parsonage, and purchased the (then) Randolph lot, — the
same now owned and occupied by Thomas Johnson — and
this was used as a parsonage until the year 1866, when
it was sold, and with the proceeds the lot upon which the
present parsonage stands was purchased, and again for
nine years the Methodists were without a home for the
preacher, for it was not until 1875 that the present par-
sonage was erected. But really no home for the minis-
ter was needed, for the church was supplied, with one
or two exceptions, for nearly twenty years, with a pro-
fessor from the Southern University, by the annual con-
ferences. But in 1886 this method was changed, and
a preacher was sent who was to devote his entire time
to the charge.
At the meeting of the Quarterly Conference in June,
1837, Thomas M. Johnston and Joel Reynolds were ap-
pointed stewards, in place of Greene B. Williams, de-
ceased, and Stephen G. Field, removed. At this same
meeting (June 10, 1837) the stewards were appointed
a building committee to "build a new Methodist church
in the town of Greensboro, Alabama," "and it is recom-
mended," said the conference, "that the house be built
It was decided to remove from the place where the
church had been located for some years, and the old lot
and edifice standing thereon were disposed of to the
negroes, and in 1837 the lot at the intersection of Main
and Tuscaloosa streets (where the church now stands)
was purchased from Matthew Hobson for the sum of
On March 16, 1839, the Quarterly Conference appoint-
ed a committee to superintend the building of the new
church, said committee consisting of Dr. William Jones,
Dr. Thomas Cottrell, Thomas M. Johnston, John M. Bates
and Andrew Walker. The contractor was Robert Dick-
The work on the new building was pushed quite rapid-
ly for those days when the brick had to be made and
burned at home, and the timber had to be gotten out by
hand — for in a little more than a year after the appoint-
ment of a committee to superintend the building the
church was dedicated — April 3, 1840. Rev. E. V. LeVert
preached the sermon, his text being: "This is a faithful
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners."
At the time of the dedication, the church had a mem-
bership of one hundred and sixteen whites; the Sunday
School had two superintendents, nine teachers and sixty
Church matters seem not to have prospered with the
Methodists in a financial way during the next few suc-
ceeding years, if the following from the minutes of the
Quarterly Conference, held February 2, 1846, is to be
taken as an indication :
94 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
"In view of the indebtedness of this Station, be it
Resolved, That it be returned to the Circuit; Provided,
That first the matter be brought before the whole So-,
ciety on next Sabbath, and that if they will come forward
and pay all arrearages and promise to sustain the Sta-
tion, it shall remain as such."
On the following Sunday the matter was brought be-
fore the congregation, and the alternative of either re-
turning to the Circuit or paying up arrearages was sub-
mitted to them, and they chose to liquidate the indebted-
ness and remain as a Station.
The building that was torn away in June, 1907, to
make room for the present handsome and commodious
structure, was practically the same as the one erected
For several years the question of building a new church
was discussed by the membership, and finally the mat-
ter was definitely decided by its being ascertained that
the roof of the old building was in a dangerous condition,
and was liable to fall in. Nothing was left for the Meth-
odists to do but to either repair the old strucrure at great
cost, or to build a new one, and at a meeting of the Quar-
terly Conference held on January 29, 1907, it was decid-
ed to build a new church, and the following building com-
mittee was appointed: Dr. S. M. Hosmer, chairman, F.
D. Gulley, R. F. Monette, Wm. E. W. Yerby, Thomas
Johnson, Thomas E. Knight, L. J. Lawson, W. C. Chris-
tian and E. A. Powers.
The contract was let to John A. Straiton, contractor,
for $17,984.91, and work on the present building was
begun on June 21, 1907, and finished in June, 1908. The
above price does not include the interior furnishings.
These cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 — including
windows, organ and heating. While the church was
building, services were held for more than a year in the
Greensboro Opera House, which was kindly tendered the
congregation free of rent, by the owner, Mr. J. A. Blunt.
The following is as complete a list of the presiding
elders and preachers in charge who have served this dis-
trict and station as it was possible to obtain :
PRESIDING ELDERS— Rev. Mr. Hearn, 1833; E. V.
LeVert, 1835-36; Francis H. Jones, 1838; E. V. LeVert,
1839-41; Charles McCloud, 1842-45; Edmund Pearson,
1846-48 ; P. P. Neely, 1849 ; Greenberry Garrett, 1850-51 ;
T. J. Kager, 1852-55; J. W. Starr, 1856; J. J. Hutchinson,
1857-58; T. J. Ramsey, 1859; Edward Wadsworth, 1860;
J. W. Starr, 1861; C. C. Calloway, 1862-65; Abram
Adams, 1866; J. L. Cotton, 1867-68; A. H. Mitchell, 1871-
79 ; S. H. Cox, 1880 ; H. Urquhart, 1881-84 ; J. Bancroft,
1884-86; T. J. Mangum, 1886- O. R. Blue, J. R. Peavy,
J. Bancroft, 0. C. McGehee, Jno. A. Peterson, W. P.
Hurt, E. A. Dannelly— a total of 29.
Preachers in Charge.
Robert L. Kenon, 1833; S. B. Sawyer, 1835; F. H.
Jones, 1836; Claiburne Pirtle, 1837; E. V. LeVert, and
C, Shannon, ass't preacher, 1838; James A. Boatright,
1839-40 ; W. W. Bell, and W. W. Thomas, ass't preacher,
1840-41; W. Dorman, 1843; Thomas Capers, 1845; C. C.
Gillespie, 1846; T. P. Shelman, 1848; C. D. Oliver, 1849-
50; A. H. Powell, 1851-52; J. J. Hutchinson, 1853; C. C.
Calloway, 1854-55; Edward Wadsworth, 1856-57; Wil-
liam Shapard, 1858-59; T. J. Ramsey, 1860-61; J. A.
Heard, 1862 ; R. K. Hargrove, 1863 ; T. T. Ramsey, 1864-
65; T. O. Summers, 1866; J. C. Wills, 1866; T. C. Weir,
1867-68; John S. Moore, 1869-71; A. S. Andrews, 1872-
75; 0. R. Blue, 1875; H. Urquhart, 1876; J. Lewis, Jr.,
1877-80; F. M. Peterson, 1881-84; A. S. Andrews, 1885;
W. P. Dickinson, 1886-89; O. C. McGehee, 1889-92; J.
0. Keener, 1893-4 ; A. S. Andrews, July 1894 ; W. M. Cox,
1894-98; C. L. Chilton, 1898-1902; T. R. McCarty, 1902;
-03; E. L. Crawford, 1903-06; Henry Trawick, 1907— a
total of 42.
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
THE GREENSBORO BAPTIST CHURCH.
The Baptist Church.
The Baptist denomination was among the earliest, and
at one time the most important, of the Christian denomi-
nations in Greensboro and vicinity. The Rev. Joseph
Ryan in 1819 organized the first Baptist church in this
part of the State. It was known as Salem Baptist church,
and was situated in the eastern part of Greensboro near
where the Marion and Newbern roads fork. The mem-
bers who were present at the organization were : James
Hutchins, Offa Caloway, Samuel Caloway, Thomas and
James Gresham, David Eddins and Messrs. Thomas and
Seaton. In addition to those mentioned, other members
were : Louis and David Stevens, C. C. Latimore, Thomas
Ward, James Brantley and wife. In 1820 a large frame
church was built. It had neither laths nor plaster, with
wooden shutters, without glass, and was seated with
wooden benches. This church stood on the south side of
the Main road and immediately east of the present New-
bern road. Near the head of the swampy hollow in the
rear of the Williamson old place (at present owned by
Mrs. Walker) was the pool for baptism — a square reser-
voir with steps descending into it — without a roof.
The Rev. Joseph Ryan was pastor of Salem Baptist
church for about twenty years. He came to Greensboro
from South Carolina, and was ordained as a minister at
Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1819. After resigning his pastorate
here he moved to Sumter county, residing near Gaston,
where he died in 1845. Rev. Daniel P. Bestor succeeded
Mr. Ryan as pastor, a position he filled with marked abil-
ity for some years. He also had charge of the Greensboro
Female Academy from 1841 to 1846, and also represented
Greene county in the Legislature several terms. He died
in Mobile on the 9th of April, 1869, aged at)out 65 years.
REV. THOMAS CHILTON,
One of the early Pastors of the Greensboro Baptist Church.
98 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Rev. Thomas Chilton succeeded Mr. Bestor as pastor,
and remained as such until about 1850, when he moved
to Newbern, Ala., where he resided for two years and
then went to Texas, where he died some years after-
During the years 1851-52-53, Rev. C. F. Sturgis was
pastor. He in turn was succeeded by Revs. Russell Hol-
man, W. S. Barton, W. C. Buck, J. C. Wright, and T. W.
Toby until 1865 when the church ceased to exist.
In 1842, Peter Mclntyre, for the consideration of $2,-
700, sold to the Baptists the lot on which the court house
now stands, and they proceeded at once to build what was
then considered the finest church edifice in west Alabama.
John Crossland was the contractor. This building was,
in 1867, sold to the town of Greensboro, and by the town
donated to Hale county as a court house, and served as
such until 1907, when the old building was torn away to
make room for the present court house. The town paid
the Baptists $8,000 for the property.
In 1820, the Cahaba Baptist Association convened in
Salem church, and in 1823, while the church was on the
lot at the forks of the Marion and Newbern roads, the
Alabama Baptist State Convention was organized. There
were present twenty delegates, representing twenty-eight
churches with a membership of about 7 000.
Salem church, in its day and time, numbered among its
membership many prominent people. Besides those al-
ready mentioned may be added Dr. W. T. Hendon, Green
Huckabee, Hayward Lawrence, Harris Tinker, Wiley
Croom, C. C. Huckabee, Jesse Croom, George Deal, Mrs.
Kissie Croom, George Pollard and Messrs. Coates and
In 1834 the Baptist Convention met with Salem church
and established the Baptist Manual Labor School. Some
objected to the name "Manual Labor," and it was later
called "The Alabama Institute of Literature and Indus-
try." This school was located in the neighborhood of the
old Breen place about a mile northeast of the present
court house. The school was largely attended for several
years. The pupils were required to do a certain amount
of labor in the field or elsewhere each day, for which they
were allowed a small sum per hour. A. J. Holcombe was
Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The institution
proved a failure, and the buildings were sold at auction.
These buildings were a row of one-story frame houses
of two rooms each, with shutters at the windows. There
were a half dozen or more of them.
When Salem Baptist church was dissolved in 1865 the
Baptists were left unorganized in Greensboro, until Feb-
ruary 18, 1894, when the present church was established.
On that date nine Baptists met in the court house and or-
ganized "The Greensboro Baptist Church." Rev. W. B.
Crumpton, D. D., Secretary of the State Board of Mis-
sions, and Rev. S. 0. Y. Ray, State Evangelist, assisted
in the organization. The constituent members were:
T. J. Kinnaird, Wm. Martin, Mrs. Rachael Martin, Thom-
as Mitchell, R. D. Redding, Misses Mattie Redding and
Nannie Redding, and P. H. Wilkerson and wife. The
church was duly incorporated on the 10th day of Sep-
On July 8th, 1894, Rev. A. R. Hardy, the first pastor
of "The Greensboro Baptist Church," begun his work,
services being held in the court house until the present
church edifice was erected. On August 8th, 1896, the
property on which the church and the pastorium now
stand was purchased from D. W. Taylor, Syd Taylor and
Lily Taylor, the deed being made to the Alabama State
Convention. The lot and the residence standing thereon
(the present pastorium) cost $1600.
The first Sunday School was organized in 1895 with
P. H. Wilkerson as superintendent. The first baptisms —
seven in number — took place Nov. 22, 1896, in a pool,
made for the purpose, in the rear of Col. L. J. Lawson's
pasture on Tuscaloosa street.
100 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Rev. A. R. Hardy, labored earnestly and most efficient-
ly for the upbuilding of the church until his death on
December 1, 1896 at Greensboro. The membership was
largely increased under his ministry, and it was through
his untiring efforts that the present church was erected.
In April 1897, Rev. Mr. Barnes was called as pastor,
but remained only a short while. During the years 1898
and 1899 Rev. R. G. Patrick, D. D., President of the
Judson Institute, supplied the church.
On the 7th day of July, 1899, the contract was let to
John A. Straiton to build a one story frame church on
the Northeast corner of Centreville and Main Streets.
The cost was about $2600. The building was commenced
in October, 1899, and completed in March, 1900. It was
dedicated on January 14, 1900, — Dr. W. B. Crumpton
preaching the dedicatory sermon.
In March, 1900, Rev. W. W. Lee became pastor, and
continued as such until his resignation in September,
1902. Rev. John G. Apsey kept up the preaching services
after Mr. Lee's resignation until the arrival of Rev. T. M.
Thomas as pastor in June, 1903. In July, 1904, Rev. T.
M. Thomas tendered his resignation and went as a mis-
sionary to China.
From the time of Mr. Thomas's resignation until the
coming of Rev. J. G. Dobbins as pastor in June, 1905,
Maj. John G. Harris filled the pulpit once a month.
From a membership of nine in 1894 it has steadily
grown, until there are in the neighborhood of one hun-
dred enrolled as members of "Hardy Memorial Baptist
Church" at Greensboro.
ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
As far as can be ascertained, the first service by a cler-
gyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church was held in
Greensboro on the 14th day of March, 1830. On that
date a congregation was duly organized, the original com-
pact being signed by the following persons : R. E. Meade,
R. W. Withers, Wm. T. Boiling, T. B. Randolph, J. B.
Stickney, Jno. F. Abbott, Ryland Randolph, T. S. Wash-
ington, John Morrast, John Malone and D. W. Wither-
spoon. The following composed the first Vestry: Dr.
Richard E. Meade, Dr. R. Inge, Dr. R. C. Randolph,
Frank Inge, Esq'r, Dr. R. W. Withers, Wm. Murphy,
Esq'r, J. B. Stickney, Esq'r, Col. Samuel Pickens and
J. Bell, Esq'r. At a meeting held August 22d, 1831, by
102 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
this Vestry it was resolved to enter into negotiations for
the erection of a church edifice, but this plan failed to ma-
terialize, and the attempt to organize a parish at this time
On December 24th, 1833, at a meeting held by a num-
ber of citizens, certain persons were appointed as vestry-
men, and St. Paul's, Greensboro, was selected as the name
of the parish, but not until about 1840 was this parish
In 1834, the Rev. C. S. Ives was connected with this
parish, but how long his connection lasted is not known.
The Rev. J. B. Goodman took charge of the work in 1837
and continued to serve as rector until 1842, when he was
succeeded by Rev. Julian E. Sawyer. The next rector
was Rev. S. Patterson who, in 1845, was succeeded by
by Rev. J. S. Marbury, who continued the work until
1850, at. which time he tendered his resignation on ac-
count of ill health. He died in Greensboro in September,
1851, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Paul's.
The Rev. J. M. Bannister was the next rector, who re-
mained in the parish from 1851 to 1860, when he was
succeeded by Rev. Richard Hooker Cobbs, D. D., who took
charge on September 1st, 1861, and served continuously
for forty-six years, — resigning the rectorship in Septem-
ber, 1907. He was again re-elected as Rector in March
1908, and so urgent was the request on the part of Ves-
try and congregation, that he accepted.
The present church building was erected in 1840, but
has been considerably improved since that time — a chan-
cel being added in 1855, and the building was enlarged
and much improved in 1872. The Sunday School room,
immediately north of the church, was erected in 1906.
The first baptism recorded in this parish was on Jan-
uary 14, 1838, and confirmation was administered for the
first time on Good Friday, April 13, 1838, by Rt. Rev. Dr.
Kepper, Missionary Bishop of Missouri.
In 1840 Bishop Polk visited this parish, and in May,
1844, Rev. Dr. Cobbs, father of the rector who served
the parish forty-six years, was elected the first Bishop of
Alabama, by a convention sitting in this church.
GKEExXSBORO PREiSBVTEKIAN CllL'KCil.
Preshyterian Chu rch.
The first sermon ever preached in Greensboro by a
Presbyterian minister was some time prior to 1822, when
Mr. Hunter delivered a discourse. In 1822, Rev. James
Hillhouse came from South Carolina and delivered his
104 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
first sermon in a small house used as a tavern. The next
year (1823) he organized a church of twenty members,
and the same year a house of worship was erected where
Mrs. Mary G. Pickens now resides. On the first roll
are the names of Norris, Knox, Hall, Hunter, Hillhouse,
Darragh, Bell and Barron. Except during the period
from 1830-1832 Mr. Hillhouse served as pastor until his
death in 1835. Such was the growth of the church under
his administration that the congregation was able to
offer in 1836 a salary of $2,000 per year.
In 1837 Rev. T. R. Witherspoon became the pastor of
the church and held the position until 1843.
The following ministers subsequently served the
church either as stated supplies or as regular pastors,
Rev. L. D. Hatch, spring of 1843; Rev. R. C. Yale, 1843
and 1844; Rev. R. H. Chapman, 1845 to 1850; Rev. J. C.
Mitchell, 1850 to 1859; Rev. F. H. Bowman, 1859 to 1860;
the church pastorate was vacant 1861 and 1862; Rev.
J. M. P. Otts, D. D., 1862 to 1867; Rev. D. D. Sanderson,
1868 to 1871; vacant 1871 and 1872; Rev. W. J. Frierson,
1872 and 1873; Rev. Thomas Ward White, 1874 to 1879;
Rev. J. J. Anderson, 1880 and 1881; Rev. W. C. Clark,
May 1882 to 1886; Rev. W. G. Ready, 1889 to 1902; Rev.
J. P. Anderson, 1902 to present (1908).
The church has numbered among its membership some
of Greensboro's most honored and prominent men. On
the roll will be found such names as Witherspoon, Kerr,
Locke, Lowry, May, Strudwick, Webb, Carson, Castle-
man, Boardman and others. The number of persons
brought into the church since its organization has been
something over six hundred.
This church has furnished seven or eight ministers,
and there have been associated with it, as pastors, seven
ministers: Witherspoon, Chapman, Mitchell, Otts, Clark,
Ready and Anderson; and as stated supplies, nine: Kill-
house, Murphy, Hatch, Yale, Bowman, Sanderson, Frier-
son, White and Anderson.
Three houses of worship have been built — 1823,
1841 and 1859, in the latter year the present edifice was
Miss Emma Boardman, a member of this church, went
as a missionary to China in March, 1894, and is yet at her
post of duty.
The Masonic Lodge now in existence in Greensboro —
known as Lafayette No. 26 — dates back to the year 1826,
though it would appear from the minutes of the Lodge
that it was the successor to one which had formerly been
organized in the town. From an old, faded and dim min-
ute entry the following is taken :
"3y virtue of the foregoing Dispensation from the Right Wor-
shipful John B. Hogan, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge
of Alabama, a special communication of the Lafayette Lodge No.
26, was begun and held at the store house of Samuel Reed & Co.,
in the town of Greensborough on the 19th of August A. L. 5826,
A. D. 1826."
There were present at this first communication the
following : Josiah Downing, Worshipful Master ; Franklin
Shaw, Senior Warden; Ebernezer Whiting, Junior War-
den; Nathan Baker, Treasurer; Thomas B, Childress, Sec-
retary; James B. Scott, Senior Deacon; Benjamin H,
Mann, Junior Deacon ; Lathan Cooper, Tyler ; also visiting
brethren J. B. Stickney, James C. Harrell and William
A committee was appointed "to collect the jewels and
furniture of the former lodge held at this place, value
them, and report at the next communication."
In order to ascertain something in regard to the "for-
mer lodge" referred to in the above, a letter was written
to the Grand Secretary at Montgomery, the reply to which
is here inserted :
108 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Montgomery, Ala., March 18, 1907.
Mr. William E. W. Yerby,
Dear Sir & Brother :-
I am in receipt of your favor of the 16th instant and take pleas-
ure in giving you the information we have concerning the first
Lodge instituted in your city.
The name of said Lodge was Washington No. 17. The petition
on which dispensation was issued said Lodge January 8, 1822 was
signed by Hiram Shortridge, Ina Nelson, Ebernezer Whiting, Sam-
uel G. Briggs, Samuel Dickenson, Lawrence Carr, Joseph Middle-
brooks, Joseph B. Stickney. Recommended by Rising Virtue Lodge
November 27, 1822 petition for Charter signed by Joseph B.
Stickney, W. M., and blank date 1822, another petition for Charter
signed by Thomas Sheridan, John L. Martin, James Means, Henry
Halbert, Thomas Westbrook, Allen M. Donald, John C. Dunn, L E.
Norris, T. L. Jernigan, Wiatt Harper, John Thomas, John C. Whit-
sett recommending Thomas Sheridan, W. M., Henry Halbert, S. W.,
John P. Martin, J. W.
A Charter was issued December 10, 1823 to Thomas Sheriden,
Henry Halbert and John P. Martin, signed by Horatio G. Perry,
Dep. G. M., David Moore, Dep. G. W., A .Hutcheson, S. G. W.,
Thomas Owen, J. G. W., W. I. Adair, Grand Secretary, p. t.
Returns — 1822, 17 members, 1823, 12 members, 1824, 9 members
and 1825, 14 members.
The Lodge surrendered its Charter, Jewels, etc., June 10, 1825.
The books, jewels, etc., were delivered to L Downing, W. M., of
Lafayette Lodge No. 26 in August 1826, with a petition to the
Grand Lodge that its members be permitted to join Lafayette
i-odge, signed by the W. Master Henry Halbert.
As it may be of some interest to you, I enclose copy of letter
written by Henry Halbert, W. M., protem of said Lodge.
Geo. A. Beauchamp,
To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of
Prior to the dissolution of Washington Lodge No. 17 held at the
Orient of Greensborough the meetings were so thinly attended
and the members so dispersed that it was not in my power to make
a return to the last annual communication of the Most Worship-
ful Grand Lodge, and therefore solicit their indulgence for any
omission of duty I may have reluctantly committed.
Agreeably to an order of the right Wovshipful first deputy
Grand Master dated in August last, I delivered the funds and fur-
niture of the late Washington Lodge No. 17 to Brother L Downing,
Worshipful Master of Lafayette Lodge in this place, as also the
books and papers. The funds of the late Washington Lodge were
barely sufTicicnt to defray the expenses and it was with some dif-
ficulty that I have been enabled to collect the necessary dues to the
Grand Lodge forwarded heretvith: I therefore hope and trust
that the restrictions, if any, may be removed so far as that: Every
member of the late Washington Lodge who has paid up his dues
and is otherwise thought deserving may be permitted to join La-
(Signed) HENRY HALBERT,
W. M. protem of the late Washington Lodge.
Greensborough, 11th Dec, A. L. 5826.
At a communication of Lafayette Lodge No. 26, held on
February 20th, 1827, it was ordered "that a petition for
a Charter for this Lodge be forwarded to the Grand
Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Alabama before the next
The Charter was promptly granted, and bears date of
March 21st, 1827. It designates Franklin A. Shaw as
Worshipful Master; Josiah Downing as Senior Warden,
and Ebenezer Whiting as Junior Warden. The Charter
is signed by Nimrod E. Benson, Grand Master, John B.
Hogan, Deputy Grand Master, and John G. Acker as
Grand Secretary. The sheep-skin upon which the char-
ter is written is now yellow with age, and has been in
the lodge room for more than three-quarters of a century ;
yet, it is in a fairly good state of preservation, and is
likely to witness the coming and going of several more
generations of Masons.
No reference is made in the ancient minutes of the Lodge
in regard to where the communications were held from
August, 1826, until January, 1833, at which time the agi-
tation of the question of building a lodge room was begun.
From some of the old inhabitants we have heard that the
Masons met in the early days in a building situated some-
where near the present shops of George DeLaney — this
location was probably where Washington No. 17 met.
It would seem that the Lodge went to work in earnest
on the lodge room proposition, for at a special communi-
cation held on February 15th, 1833, the following ap-
pears on the minutes :
The committee appointed to select a lot on which to
erect a lodge room reported "that the lot of Col. McAlpine
cannot be obtained on the terms anticipated by the Lodge,
110 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
and that Mr. Sanders' lot could not be obtained without
restriction." Thereupon it was ordered
"that Mr. Sanders' lot and Mr. Peck's lot be put in nomination,
and the one which shall receive the greatest number of votes be
taken as the site for a Lodge, whereupon it appeared that Mr.
Peck's lot received the greatest number of votes."
The next week — February 22d, 1833 — the Lodge met
and "the brethren were formed in procession and march-
ed to the Methodist church, where an eloquent and feeling
address was delivered to them by Brother R. L. Kennon;
from thence they proceeded to laying the corner stone of
the new lodge, which being performed with appropriate
ceremonies, they returned to the lodge room."
The Masons participating in the dedicatory services
were : J. S. W. Hellen, John Fife, V. T. Shell, John Cocke,
Henry Webb, R. Shackleford, C. Jones, C. H. Cox, S. W.
Webb, J. P. Hill, J. B. Scott, W. T. Scott, N. Pinkham,
G. Goodrum, C. F. Stephens, John Craig, W. Earby, W.
S. Harrison, Messrs. Noel, Halbert, Whiting, Stewart,
Ocheltree and Garrett all of Lafayette Lodge; and visit-
ing brethren R. L. Kennon, Thomas S. Abernathy, Wil-
liam Craig, James A. Beal, T. F. Moody, John Nelson,
Joseph B. Stickney, J. Middlebrooks, J. Downing, James
Chambers, J. E. Frierson, F. J. W. Nelson, T. Goodrum,
W. D. Baldwin, J. D. Cash, Willis Nail, John P. Lipscomb,
John McGinnis, 0. Eddins, A. McMillan.
At the meeting of the Lodge on September 16th, 1833,
the following motion was passed :
"Resolved that the site agreed on for the location of a lodge
room be rescinded, and that a committee of three be appointed to
circulate subscriptions for the purpose of raising sufficient funds
to build a Lodge Room on the top of Mr. Dickens' house; when
brothers Cocke, Hellen and Webb were appointed."
This committee did not progress as rapidly with their
work as did the first one appointed to select a site, for it
was not until February 17th, 1835, that Mr. Dickens
made the Lodge the following proposition :
To the Members of Lafayette Lodge ai; Greensboro:
"Having had a conversation with some of the members of your
body on the subject of building a lodge room on my lot lying east
of the Warrior House, I take this method of making you the fol-
lowing proposition :
I will erect a building of the same size of the one you now occupy
on the street leading from Main street to Mr. Peck's family res-
idence (Peck's residence was the W. W. Powers homestead) on
the same terms that the one you now occupy was built, without
the restriction that was laid on it. The lower room of the build-
ing is to be constructed so as to make a good Town Hall, and to be
appropriated to that purpose, provided the citizens of our town will
pay for it, if not, to be owned by myself. I am also willing to
make a good title to the upper story on its being paid for, or to the
whole building if the Lodge, or citizens, will pay the cost of the
same, without any charge for the ground on which it stands; the
room now occupied as a lodge room to be retained by the Lodge
until the new one is finished, without any charge for rent, and
then to be given up to me. I am, Gentlemen
Yours with respect,
N. B. It will be understood that I will make good all the expense
the Lodge has been at in furnishing a part of the materials for
building the present Lodge room."
This proposition was accepted and Dickens built the
lodge room now occupied by the Masons of Greensboro.
The amount paid Dickens was $629,54, this being ordered
paid at the communication held on September 15th, 1835.
In the month of April, 1837, a bill from C. Jones was pre-
sented "for work in building the Masonic Hall." The
amount of this bill was $460.64. This was nearly two
years after the payment to Dickens. The minutes dis-
close nothing further on the subject.
The career of Lafayette Lodge has been a long and
honorable one. Many distinguished men have been num-
bered among the membership. Scattered throughout the
length and breadth of the land are those who have been
within the precincts of its Hall and have taken part in
the Masonic work.
It has a present membership of forty-five.
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
DR. THOMAS R. WARD.
He was for twenty-two years Worshipful Master of LaFayetle
The following is a complete list of those who have filled
the position of Worshipful Master since the organization
of the Lodge in 1826 :
Josiah Downing, 1826; Franklin Shaw, 1827; Wm. S.
Chapman, 1830; J. B. Scott, 1831; John Craig, 1832; J.
S. W. Hellen, 1833; John Fife, 1834; Daniel H. Bingham,
1835 ; Charles Whelan, 1836 ; Robert B. Waller, 1837-35-
39 ; Volney Boardman, 1840 ; Robert B. Waller, 1841 ; Wm.
Kerr, 1842-43; Robert B. Waller, 1844; Thomas Capers,
1845; Wm. Kerr, 1846; Thomas P. Chilton, 1847; Wm.
Kerr, 1848-49-50; Robert H. Jackson, 1851-52-53; R. D.
Huckabee, 1854-55-56; Thomas R. Ward, 1857-58-59-60-
61-62-63-64-65-66-67-68-69, 1871-72-73-74-75, 1880, 1886-
87, 1894; Wm. Trice, 1870; John S. Tucker, 1876-77;
Richard Inge, 1878-79; L. J. Lawson, 1880-81-82-83-84;
Elisha Young, 1885-86. (Note— From March, 1887, to
June, 1890, there was a suspension of the Lodge. On
June 17th, 1890, T. R. Ward, E. Young, R. U. DuBois, L.
J. Lawson, B. Steinhart, J. P. Lieser and J. H. Young rnet,
and under a dispensation of the Grand Secretary, elected
officers.) L. J. Lawson, W. M., 1890-1891; John H. Tur-
pin, 1892-93-94; D. P. Christenberry, 1895-96; J. A. Eller-
be, 1897-98; William Smaw, 1899-1900-01-02-03-04-05-06;
L. J. Lawson, 1907.
It will be noted that Dr. Thomas R. Ward served as
Worshipful Master twenty-two years,— the longest in
point of service of any of the Worshipful Masters.
Wm. E. W. Yerby has served the Lodge as Secretary
for fifteen consecutive years, i. e., from 1893 to 1908—
the longest period ever served by any Secretary during
the eighty-three years of its existence.
ROYAL ARCH CHAPTER.
Phoenix Royal Arch Chapter No. 11, under dispensa^
tion, was organized April 16, 1838, at Greensboro, Ala.,
with the following members :
Charles Whelan, H. P.; J. B. McVinoy, King; John Fife,
Scribe ; Henry Webb, C. of H. ; R. Haygood, P. S. ; W. D.'
Baldwin, R. A. C. ; R. B. Walthall, Charles Briggs, A. B.
Winn, M. of Veils.
A charter was granted by the Grand Chapter dated
December 6, 1838, and was forfeited in December, 1876.
The following are the names of the High Priests :
Charles Whelan, 1839 to 1844; Rev. Thomas Capers,
1845; Charles Whelan, 1846; William Kerr, 1847 to 1848;
Volney Boardman, 1849; William Kerr, 1850; Francis
M. Peterson, 1851 to 1859; William Kerr, 1860 to 1865;
N. T. Lupton, 1866 to 1867; Thomas R. Ward, 1868; N.'
T. Lupton, 1869; Reuben H. Jackson, 1870 to 1872; Fran-
cis M. Peterson, 1873 to 1874.
A dispensation was issued August 29, 1902, to the fol-
lowing Companions to organize a new Royal Arch Chap-
114 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
ter in Greensboro, to be known as Phoenix Chapter No.
John M. P. Otts, Jr., H. P.; William Smaw, King; John
G. Apsey, Sr., Scribe; Lee M, Otts, John G. Apsey, Jr.,
A. C. Jones, George Findlay, R. U. Dubois, H. T. Waller.
After the organization of the Chapter other members
were: J. D. Hamilton, Wm, E. W. Yerby, T. G. Jones,
John A. Straiton, Richard Muckle, Henry A. Andrews.
George Delaney, N. L. Castleman, Chas. E. Waller, E. P.
In December, 1907, Phoenix No. 121 forfeited its
KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS.
Eureka Lodge No. 29, Knights of Pythias of Greens-
boro, was chartered by the Grand Lodge of the State of
Alabama on the first day of April, 1880.
The following are the charter members : Mayer Frank,
S. Markstein, Abe Frank, Henry Beck, S. M. Marx, J. L.
Levy, A. H. Williams, J. Friedlander, P. N. Booker, R.
Inge, L. J. Lawson, J. B. Coleman, A. B. Loveman, J. M.
Shivers, A. I. Klein and M. W. Redus.
The Charter is duly signed by George F. Taylor, Grand
Chancellor of the State of Alabama. The charter mem-
bers at once went industriously to work to build up Eu-
reka Lodge No. 29, and the membership has at times been
as high as one hundred.
Eureka No. 29 has never owned its lodge room, but
has rented quarters from various parties. The first lodge
room was the upstairs over the hardware store of George
Findlay, — now occupied as The Watchman office. The
meetings were held there for a number of years, and then
the Lodge rented other quarters from M. Steinhart, up-
stairs in the building immediately in the rear of the Stein-
hart store. After remaining there for a term of years.
J. A. Blunt built a room in the third story of the Opera
House building especially for Eureka Lodge, since which
time the meetings have been held therein.
The present membership is about fifty.
THE ODD FELLOWS.
On February 24, 1845, George W. Freiderick and five
others, applied for and obtained a Charter to establish a
lodge of Odd Fellows in Greensboro, and on the 1st of
March, 1845, Grand Chaplain Williamson came to Greens-
boro and instituted Lodge No. 8, I. 0. O. F. It prospered
for a time, and then the Charter was forfeited. There
has been no lodge of Odd Fellows in the town for many
JEFFRIES A. BLUNT.
Any history of modern Greensboro with J. A. Blunt
omitted, would resemble the play of Hamlet with Hamlet
left out, for no more progressive and enterprising man
ever resided in the town, — nor one who took more pride
in the advancement of everything that tended to the up-
building of the place. His name is identified with many
of the most substantial improvements that have been
made of recent years.
Jeffries A, Blunt is the son of the late E. A. Blunt and
his wife Mary Francis Hall Blunt, and was born in Mar-
ion, Alabama, on the 5th day of December, 1861. At the
age of thirteen years — 1874 — he came to Greensboro and
clerked in the general merchandise store of A. S. Jeffries
for three years, at the expiration of which time he en-
tered the employ of James W. McCrary, as a clerk in his
store. He held this position for ten years, when he and
M. M. Avery entered the mercantile business, buying out
A. S. Jeffries, the style of the firm being Avery & Blunt.
In 1894, upon the organization of the Bank of Greens-
boro, Mr. Blunt was elected as Cashier, which position
he held until 1896, when he was elected as President of
the institution, which position he has filled since that time
to the present with marked ability and success.
Mr. Blunt served for a dozen or more years on the
Town Council, and it was largely through his efforts that
the cemented sidewalks were put down in the business
portion of Greensboro, and also that the Main Street
was cherted from the depot to the cemetery.
118 HISTORY OF GREEXSBORO. ALA.
The reader will find, in perusing this volume, that Mr.
Blunt's name is connected with a number of Greensboro's
enterprises, and many of the principal buildings.
In 1897, Mr. Blunt erected a two story brick structure
filling the space on the south side of Main street between
the Steinhart building and the Dorman stores. In the
upper story he fitted up a pretty Public Hall, and the
building was given the name of the ''Opera House Block."
This structure was burned to the ground on the night
of Nov. 24, 1902, as were also the Dorman stores. It
was the most disastrous fire in the history of Greensboro,
the losses footing up about $70,000. In 1903, Mr. Blunt
replaced the burned stores with the present handsome
building — the most imposing ever erected in the town.
The same year, Mr. C. A. Ramsey rebuilt the Dorman
block, the present handsome stores being the result. In
this block has been conducted since 1847, the Stollen-
werck drug store, which was established in that year by
Alphonse Stollenwerck, who died in Greensboro on Au-
gust 11, 1900. Since his death, the business has been con-
ducted by his sons. Mr. Stollenwerck was an honored
and much respected citizen of Greensboro for more than
MAIN STKKKT Ol' (iKEKiN .■>!.( >Ku
Looking West from the Methodist Parsonage.
MODERN GREENSBORO ' 119
BLUNT'S OPERA HOUSE AND THE DORMAN BLOCK.
FIRST HOUSES BUILT AFTER THE WAR.
It would be superfluous to state that for nearly twenty
years after the close of the war between the North and
South that enterprise and progress were unknown quan-
tities in the smaller towns of this section. The people
were disheartened, and had to adjust themselves to
new conditions — conditions that were hard, and seeming-
ly unbearable, for they were so different from those to
which they had been accustomed.
It was not until the year 1884 that there was a sem-
blance of building of new stores or residences in Greens-
boro. The sound of the hammer and the saw had been
unknown for nearly a quarter of a century. But in 1884,
S. H. Lawrence built the little wooden store house on the
south side of Main street now occupied by Wynne as a
beef market. He soon afterward erected a cottage on the
120 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
lot on which is now situated the handsome home of Thom-
as R. Ward, Jr. A few years prior to this, Col. L. J.
Lawson built his present residence on Tuscaloosa street.
The building spirit was soon caught by others, for in
the early part of 1886 the residence of Mrs. W. D. Lee
on Demopolis street was erected, and that of Prof. F. M.
Peterson on Main street, — now owned by Thos. H. Jones.
Up to this time no building had been done in Greens-
boro worthy of note — indeed, so strange a thing was the
erection of a house, that the writer recalls that as he was
passing one of the structures mentioned above while it
was in course of building, that a little girl asked him what
the men who were at work on the residence were doing,
and when informed that they were building a house she
said: "Well, I declare! I thought that when God made
the world He made at the same time the houses the people
Other improvements begun to be made, and Greensboro
was progressing well until the "Birmingham boom" broke
in full force upon the citizens, not only of Greensboro,
but of Hale county as well. Hundreds of thousands of
dollars were carried there and invested — the buyers of
real estate hoping to become immensely wealthy. Some
of them did well — many others did not, but lost heavily
when the inevitable crash came, and prices of real estate
shot downward, the winds of adversity seeming to blow
untempered upon the "shorn lambs."
The large amount of money taken from Greensboro to
Birmingham during 1886 and 1887 almost put a stop to
the progress of the town in the matter of new buildings
for several years.
However, in 1887, Capt. S. T. Taylor moved to Greens-
boro from Mississippi, and purchased what was then
known as the Scarff corner, at the intersection of Tusca-
loosa and Main streets, and upon it he built the first
brick store (possibly the one which W. W. Overstreet
now owns and occupies being excepted) that had been
MODERN GREENSBORO 121
built for forty years or more. J. S. Buchanan was the
contractor at the price of $10,000. This only applies to
the two story building on the corner — for the two stores
immediately east of and adjoining this one were built
by James W. McCrary in 1890.
In 1891, T. R. Ward & Son removed the small wooden
building on Main street which Dr. T. R. Ward had oc-
cupied as an office for many years, and erected the pres-
ent brick structure. The same year, G. W. Dugger added
a story to the Greensboro Hotel.
Morris Steinhart in 1894 tore away the wooden build-
ing in which J. W. McCrary did business for many years,
and erected two brick stores and a brick warehouse on
In 1895, the colored Baptists begun the building of a
large brick church on "Baptist Hill." The work, while
at present well under way, has by no means been complet-
ed. The same year, W. E. Torbert built his present brick
livery stable. Dr. A. Lawson also remodeled his bank
In 1897, J. A. Blunt erected a two story brick store
now owned and occupied by P. F. Osborn.
In December, 1896, the building on Main street known
as the old Christian Hotel, was destroyed by fire. It had
been standing since about 1829, and was at one time re-
garded as among the finest two story bricks in the town.
It was for a long while kept as a hotel by Mrs. Christian,
a saintly woman, whose memory is yet kept alive by the
older inhabitants. She was the mother of Judge W. C.
Christian and of Mrs. L. W. Turpin, now of Greensboro.
In 1898 Mrs. W. C. Tunstall, who owned the property,
had the present one-story brick stores erected on the site
of the old hotel building.
In the old days there formerly stood a brick building
where the Johnson-Winn Millinery establishment now
stands known as the "Mansion House," which was kept
as a hotel for a few years by the late Col. John G. Har-
122 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
vey. While it was under his charge, sometime about
1843, the building fell, wrecking nearly everything on
the interior and killing a jeweler named Munn.
In 1898, Benners and Jack removed the small wooden
structures on Main street formerly occupied as law of-
fices, and erected the two-story brick structure just east
of Dr. Lawson's property. The same year Ed. deGraf-
fenreid built the two-story structure at present occupied
by Gulley & Christian,
In 1899, Tutwiler & Jones removed the wooden build-
ings on the corner east of the Benners & Jack building
and erected the two-story brick that stands there at pres-
In 1900, S. P. Stickney, who had purchased the L. Law-
son property on Main street, removed the wooden struc-
tures standing thereon and erected the brick store occu-
pied by F. F. Whittle, and also the one immediately
east of it. This was the last wooden structure on the
north side of the business portion of the town.
The passing of the old Lawson store recalled the memory
of one of the noblest, sweetest-spirited Christian gentle-
men that ever resided in the town — Lewis Lawson, the
father of Dr. A. Lawson and Col. L. J. Lawson. He came
to Greensboro from England, and for many years con-
ducted a successful mercantile business here. In all good
works he was foremost, and was true to every responsi-
bility of life. Mr. Lawson died in Greensboro in De-
cember, 1881, honored and respected by those among
whom he had resided for so many years. It was through
his kindness of heart that Greensboro was indebted
for another most excellent citizen — Richard Andrews,
also from England. Mr. Lawson met Andrews, a wan-
dering waif, in Mobile, and brought him to Greensboro
and gave him employment in his store, where he re-
mained until he was, in 1868, given the position as clerk
of the Probate Court of Hale county, which position he
filled with great credit until his death in January, 1907.
MODERN GREENSBORO 123
In the earlier days of his life, Mr. Andrews followed
the sea — being a sailor on a lumber ship that plied the
ocean. »The wind never blew angrily that it did not recall
to his mind his life as a sailor lad. There was one inci-
dent that was impressed indelibly upon his memory.
While a severe storm was raging and the waves were run-
ning mountain-high, just as a sailor who was high up on
one of the masts unloosing sails, uttered a frightful oath, a
great gust of wind, more severe than any that had blown,
swept him from the mast out into the angry waters. His
body was never recovered. The thought of this poor fel-
low being ushered into eternity with that awful oath
upon his lips always made this good man shudder.
In 1902, Dr. S. C. Carson erected his Sanitarium, and
A. M. Tunstall built his law office.
In 1902, John A. Straiton established his manufactur-
ing plant in Greensboro, where is turned out numerous
articles for building and furnishing houses.
In 1904, M. D. L. Moore built the livery stable and
three stores on the south side of Main street at the in-
tersection of Tuscaloosa street.
In 1906-7, J. A. Blunt greatly improved the Greensboro
hotel, and also, a few years previous to this time, erected
the building now occupied as the Postoffice, and also the
offices immediately to the south of this building, practi-
cally opening up a new business section of the town.
The brick structures in Greensboro not mentioned as
having been erected since the war have been standing so
long that no present inhabitant remembers when they
A very large number of handsome residences have been
erected during the past twenty years, and the town has
Greensboro is situated in the heart of a fine agricultur-
al country, and while it may never become a very large
city, it will always maintain a degree of prosperity pro-
portionate to the success of those who cultivate the farms.
It is a far cry from "the old osken bucket that hung in
the well" to a modern system of water works, but that is
the distance Greensboro has traveled. In the early days,
the citizens were entirely dependent upon the water
drawn from wells by means of rope and bucket for their
supply. The business portion of the town was furnished
from a couple of wells — one of which was located in the
exact center of the Main street where it is intersected by
Tuscaloosa street, and the other was in the center of Main
street where it is intersected by Market and PostofRce
As the town increased in population, these wells were
found to be badly situated and were filled in, and three
others dug in their stead, — one on the edge of the side-
walk on the south side of Main street nearly opposite
the Powers store; one on the edge of the sidewalk on
the north side of Main street at the southeast corner
of the Greensboro Hotel, and the other on the south
side of Main street on the edge of the sidewalk
northwest of the Court House. These wells were
supplied with pumps, instead of buckets, in 1874, and
the citizens considered that quite an advance in the line
of progress had been made. This method of obtaining
water was continued until 1893, when a complete sys-
tem of water works was inaugurated by Charles E. Wal-
ler, Esq., and the wells were filled up, and are now parts
of the sidewalk.
HISTORY OF GREEXSBORO. A LA.
HON. CHARLES E. WALLER.
He established the Greensboro Water Works System.
The first steps toward obtaining water works was made
by the town authorities in 1890, when, with the object in
view of obtaining an overflowing well of artesian water,
they contracted to have one bored. The work was begun
that year, and continued for about eighteen months on a
lot which is now covered by the southwest corner of the
Just here it is worthy of note that one day, just as the
workman had wearily picked through about twenty feet
of rock at a depth of 520 feet, his auger suddenly dropped
a distance of 15 feet, and the water in the piping that had
for a month or more stood at a depth of 48 feet from the
surface, receded to a depth of 110 feet. From these facts
it was decided by those who know much of geology, that
it was an underground river fifteen feet deep that had
ELECTRIC LIGHTS 127
been struck. The iron casing was, after a time, forced
through the gap, and the work of boring continued until
a depth of 890 feet was reached, when the workman
broke off his drill, and after many vain efforts to remove
it, the well was abandoned, after an expenditure by the
town of about $5,000.00.
Somewhat discouraged, but not entirely disheartened,
by the first failure, the town authorities decided to try
again, and put the workman to boring in the bottom im-
mediately south of Main street where the Water and
Light Plant is now located. They were successful here,
for in a few weeks, at a depth of 432 feet, a bold stream
was struck that overflowed gently. Another well was
bored near this one, and at the same depth the same
stream was struck. The cost of the two was only $550.00.
Not wishing to undertake the ''Municipal Ownership"
problem, the Mayor and Council contracted with Charles
E. Waller, Esq., to take the wells, and he at once proceed-
ed to establish a system of water works. Mr. Waller paid
the town $1200.00 for the last two mentioned wells and
a couple of small lots adjacent. He was granted a fran-
chise for a period of thirty years from 1893, — the fran-
chise to be renewed and extended another thirty years at
the expiration of the first period should he or his succes-
sors and assigns choose to renew the contract, and the
terms of the contract having been faithfully complied
with by the party of the second part.
Mr. Waller continued to own the Water Works until
the year 1900, when he disposed of the property to James
E. Webb of Birmingham.
Greensboro, from its foundation up to the year 1883,
never knew what it was to have even a street lamp. Look-
ing at the matter now, it appears inconceivable that the
citizens should have allowed the streets to remain in total
darkness after nightfall for about 65 years, — but such
128 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
is the fact, for it was not until 1883 that W. W, Powers
appeared before the Mayor and Council and presented
a petition signed by eighty citizens and tax-payers pray-
ing that body to erect twenty street lamps at convenient
places on certain streets of the town. The petition was
granted, and the lamps were, in a few months, placed in
position. In 1885, the number of lights was increased to
thirty. Mr. Powers was among the most sterling, pro-
gressive and successful business men of his day.
In December, 1899, the Mayor and Council granted
James E. Webb of Birmingham, the privilege of erecting
and operating an Electric Light Plant in Greensboro, and
in 1900 the kerosene lamps that had been on duty for
seventeen years were put out of commission, and their
places supplied with arc lights, — twenty-three in number,
Mr. Webb purchased the Water Works of Charles E.
Waller in 1900, and combined the Electric and Water
Works Plants, — the combination being styled "The
Greensboro Water and Light Company."
Mr. Webb continued to own and operate the plant until
1904, when it was purchased by J. A. Blunt and associ-
ates, by whom it is now owned and operated.
The present steel water tank was erected in 1905, and
has a capacity of 80,000 gallons. Its extreme height is
While a number of unsuccessful attempts have been
made to get overflowing wells in Greensboro proper, yet
a few miles south, and also west, of the town there are
many of these wells — some of them furnishing great quan-
tities of water. There is one located twelve miles south-
west of Greensboro on what is known as the "Goodrum
Place," that possibly furnishes a greater amount of water
than any other in the United States. It is ten inches in
diameter, and the water gushes out of the earth from a
depth of six hundred feet in such volume that a sufficient
quantity is furnished to run a grist mill, cotton ginnery,
ONE OF THE LARGEST ARTESIAN WELLS IN THE WORLD
Situated ten miles Southwest of Greensboro.
cotton press and saw mill. It was bored in 1852 by Col.
Samuel Pickens, and for over half a century it has con-
tinued to flow with imperceptible diminution in the quan-
tity of water. To give an idea of the amount of water
that is furnished by the well, it is only necessary to state
that the trough around it is four feet across, and when the
water falls back it fills the trough from side to side.
The grist mill, ginnery and saw mill run by the water
from this well are situated on a hillside about a hundred
yards away, and the water is carried to it by means of a
canal cut in the solid limerock. Just under the mill house
is a well three feet in diameter and forty feet deep. In
130 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
this, at a depth of twenty-five feet, is a turbine wheel,
and the water from the canal is turned on when it is de-
sired to put the machinery in motion. A tunnel from the
bottom of this 40-foot well has been cut a distance of a
hundred yards — ranging upward — and the waste water
is turned into a branch. The accompanying picture gives
some idea of the magnitude of this remarkable artesian
The first Fire Company organized in Greensboro was
on the 28th of February, 1868, on which date a number
of citizens of the town met in the old Franklin Hall and
discussed the necessity of such an organization. R. H.
Jackson was chairman of the meeting, and Dr. Jas. D.
Osborne was secretary. After a thorough discussion of
the matter, and the passage of a resolution to form "The
Greensboro Fire Company," the following officers were
A. E. McClure, President; Wm. G. Hafner, 1st assis-
tant; N. P. Lawrence, 2d assistant; James D. Osborne,
secretary; Thomas J. Seay, treasurer.
On December 16th, 1869, an Act was approved incor-
porating the Greensboro Fire Company No. 1, the cor-
porate name being the "Greensboro Fire Company No. 1,
of the town of Greensboro, Alabama," Those named in
the body of the Act as incorporators are : L. J. Lawson,
R. H. Jackson, George Breitenbach, E. T. Hutchinson,
T. J. Seay and A. H. Benners. The following is a roll of
"Greensboro Fire Company No. 1:"
L. J. Lawson, Foreman. Briggs, S. G., Jr.
C. A Ramsey, 1st Assistant. Carson S. C.
Geo. Breitenbach, 2nd Assistant c ^ - v> i:
E. T. Hutcliinson, Secretary. ^^i-on, r. iv.
Alex H. Williams, Treasurer. Coleman. J. B.
Atkins, Jno. H. Douglass, R. B.
Benners, A. H. DuBose, C. P.
Boaidman, H. Fain, J. E.
Briggs, C. T. Gayle, J. M.
FIRE COMPANIES 131
Hamilton, J. D. Mellown, S. S.
Hooton, H. H. Nelson G. T.
Johnson, C. A. Parish, E. T.
Johnson, W. P. Roberts, W. W.
Johnson, Frank. Seay, T. J.
Leiser, J. P. Sharon, F. P.
Love, J. E. Stockton, John T.
Loveman, A. Tramill, S. C.
McDonald, Peyton C. Williams, J. A.
Wills, W. D.
"Phoenix Hook and Ladder Company" was soon after-
ward organized as an adjunct to the Fire Company, but
lasted only a few years.
In 1893, the Fire Company of which the present is the
successor, was organized, and the old Market House was
set apart by the Mayor and Council as a fire house. It
was overhauled and made a very suitable place for the
storing of the fire apparatus. It is yet in use by the Com-
pany. The members of the present Greensboro Fire Com-
pany are as follows :
Chief— C. Y. Stollenwerck.
Foreman & Secretary — N. L. Crabb.
Treasurer — N. L. Crabb.
Otts, E. V. Sledge, W. G.
Payne Walter. Helton Robert
Reasonover, W. L. Torbei't, Edgar
Waller. C. E. Jr. Wilson, W. C.
Davis, H. A. Wmn, Lee.
Ctts, J. W. Sledge, E. W.
Waller, A. E. Scale, Walter.
Powers, A. J.
COURT HOUSE AND JAIL.
COL. STEPHEN F. HALE,
In honor of whose memory Hale Covmty was named. He was a
prominent lawyer of Greene County, Ala., residing at Eutaw,
and represented Greene in the Leg:islature a number of terms.
He was a soldier in the Mexican War, 1845, and made a bril-
liant record. He held the rank of Lieut -Colonel in the Con-
federate war, belonging to the Army of Virginia. Col. Hale
was killed in 1862 in one of the battles around Richmond.
On January 30th, 1867, the Legislature passed an Act
creating Hale county. It was named for Col. Stephen F.
Hale, a prominent and highly respected citizen of Greene
county, from which latter county Hale was carved. The
first election for county officers was held in March of the
same year, and resulted in the election of Alfred H. Hutch-
134 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
inson as probate judge; J. E. Griggs, sheriff; James A.
Tallman, circuit clerk (Mr. Tallman failing to qualify,
the Governor appointed Volney Boardman to fill the posi-
tion, which he occupied about 25 years) ; Ed. Nutting,
tax assessor; Dan H. Britton, tax collector; I. F. Lewis,
R. B. Allen, Burrell Johnson and A. S. Jeffries, county
commissioners; P. T. Wright, justice of the peace, and
Benjamin E. Dorman, constable.
At this election the question of locating the court house
was submitted to a vote of the people. There were three
candidates for the county seat, namely : Greensboro,
Bucksnort, and Five Mile Church. The vote was as fol-
lows : For Greensboro, 570 votes ; for Bucksnort, 280
votes, and for Five Mile Church, 124 votes. Greensboro
received 166 majority over all, and was declared the
county seat of Hale county.
Pending the decision of the voters on the question of
locating the court house, the citizens of Greensboro pledg-
ed that in the event the citizens of Hale would put it in
Greensboro they would furnish the county a court house
and jail free of charge. This promise they kept, but it
was the cause of considerable friction for several years
in the town when the question of raising the money to
pay for the buildings was brought home to the tax payers.
On the 13th day of December, 1867, the Intendant and
Council of Greensboro purchased from the Alabama Bap-
tist State Convention their church building, then known
as "Salem Baptist Church," for the sum of $8,000. The
church stood where the present court house stands. The
deed to the town to this property is signed by J. L. M.
Curry and Charles Manley for the Baptists, and is wit-
nessed by James D. Spiller and U. P. Walker.
On the 5th day of April, 1868, the "Intendant and Coun-
cil of the Town of Greensboro," conveyed the property to
Hale county, on the following conditions : "The use and
right of property to the premises conveyed shall be and
remain in the County of Hale so long as Greensboro shall
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS 135
remain the county seat ; but if at any time or in any event
the said Greensboro shall cease to be the county seat of
said county, and the purposes for which this deed is given
should fail, then all right, title and interest in and to the
said land and buildings conveyed shall revert to, and be
vested in and belong to the said town of Greensboro,
which shall then have the right to enter upon and take
The deed is signed by Amasa M. Dorman as Mayor,
who by the way, was one of the most progressive and
useful citizens of the town. He was Mayor of Greens-
boro for a dozen or more years and it was his pride to
THE OLD COURT HOUSE
Which was torn down in 1907 to make room for the present Court
House The middle portion of the old structure was formerly
Salem Baptist Church.
beautify the streets of the town. To him Greensboro is
indebted for the magnificent oaks along the Main street.
He died March 20th, 1885, and is buried in the Greensboro
Owing to dissensions of citizens in regard to the man-
ner in which the Mayor and Council managed the court
house and jail question, the Governor in December, 1868,
removed the Mayor and Councilmen and appointed others
in their stead. A special tax was levied upon the pro-
perty in the town to pay for the court house and jail, and
there was much dissatisfaction on the subject for some
136 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
It was not until September, 1871, that the present jail
was completed and turned over to the county by the town.
During the interim, the county used the calaboose of the
town for a prison. It is still standing, a curious looking
little two-room building situated almost in the heart of
the city in the rear of the present fire house.
In November, 1905, the question of issuing $30,000
worth of bonds by Hale county, to bear 5 per cent in-
terest, for the purpose of constructing a new court house
was submitted to the people, and the bond issue was car-
ried. In November, 1906, the contract was let, and in
January, 1907, work on the present court house was be-
gun, and the building was completed in May, 1908. John
A. Straiton was the contractor, his bid being $44,767.19,
It was found, before the contract was let, that the $30,-
000 was not sufficient to build the structure, so the com-
missioners at their August, 1907, term instructed the pro-
bate judge to issue twenty county warrants for the sum
of one thousand dollars each and to sell them and get the
money with which to complete the building. This was
done the October following. These warrants are be-
ing paid yearly at the rate of $1,000 a year, and bear 6
per cent interest.
The first session of court held in the new structure was
in April, 1908, Judge B. M. Miller presiding.
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS.
There are a number of scattered graves in Greensboro
of which the present generation — most of them — know
On the eastern edge of the woods in the rear of the
Otts residence are quite a number of graves, the dead of
Troy being interred there. No tombstones are to be seen,
but the graves are bricked up, and all that is known is,
that beneath the sod repose the remains of some of the
ancient settlers of this section — their names and their
history being entirely obliterated.
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS
GRAVES OF FREDERICK AND THOMAS PECK.
Among the first inhabitants of Greensboro.
There are also a number of graves in t'ne rear of Dr.
A. Lawson's residence — it being the burial place of the
Here lie the remains of Frederick Peck, one of the ear-
liest settlers of Greensboro, who was the first postmas-
ter and among the very first merchants of the place.
He died February 4th, 1846, Mrs. Eliza Peck is also
buried here, she having died in April, 1863. Rev. Wm. S.
Peck, formerly the pastor of the Presbyterian Church at
Livingston, is buried here. He died in September, 1849,
In this same enclosure are the graves of Mrs. Sophia
Wemyss, who died in September, 1822, and Edwin A.
Wemyss, who died in June, 1855. The Wemyss' were for-
merly very prominent citizens of this place. In the
northwest corner of the little graveyard, solitary and
alone, is a tombstone, bearing this inscription : "Abram
Duff, Born April, 1790; died June, 1852." He was prob-
ably a relative of the Pecks or Wemyss', but not a soul
could be found who remembered that he had ever resided
in the town of Greensboro, though he supposedly lived
here a long while.
138 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
In a clump of woods in the rear of Dr. R. H, Jackson's
old homestead on Demopolis street, is the family grave-
yard of the Mays. In this lot is buried General Patrick
May, who joined General Andrew Jackson's forces when
they were in Alabama quelling disturbances with the In-
dians. He was a very brave soldier. At the battle of
Burnt Corn, which was fought in 1813, Lieut. May and
two other soldiers, became separated from the main body
of the army while fighting with the Indians in a swamp.
The savages were concealed in a dense cane'orake, and the
three men were battling with a large number of them,
As the fight progressed, a tall,swathy warrior, more brave
than his fellows, came out of hiding and leveled his gun on
May, who also threw his into position. The weapons were
discharged at the same instant. The Indian warrior fell
forward a corpse, while May was uninjured, but the fire
of the savage shattered May's gun near the lock. Being
thus disarm.ed, he thought it best to retreat, and the three
made a rush for their horses, but before reaching them,
one of the soldiers, Lieut. Girard W. Creagh, was shot
down by the Indians, the ball entering his hip. He fell
upon the ground, exclaiming: "Save me. Lieutenant, or
I am gone!" Instantly, May wheeled around, ran to his
fallen companion, raised him from the ground and bore
him ofi" on his back, — the Indians following rapidly.
Reaching their horses, Creagh was placed on his animal,
and May and the other soldier leaped into their saddles,
and made off at full speed, soon joining the main body of
troops from which they had become seoarated. May be-
came a noted Indian fighter in the succeeding years. He
died at his home in Greensboro — the red brick house on
the hill to the east of Brick Springs — on April 5th, 1868,
and was buried in the family graveyard. No tomb has
•ever been erected above his grave, and it is a mere matter
of speculation which of the mounds of earth his re-
mains lie beneath.
Many years after the happening at Burnt Corn, when
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS 139
the young man whose life May had saved had married
and his children were grown, a son of Creagli, having of-
ten heard the incident related above told by his father,
resolved to see the man to whom his father owed his life.
He came to Greensboro, met thv3 General and his family,
fell in love with one of his daughters, and they were hap-
pily married, — the Creaghs of Selma and Birmingham
being the children of this marriage.
For more than half a century after the settlement of
Greensboro, there were no public graveyards — all bur-
ials being made on private ground. The Stokes grave-
yard, in the northern suburbs of the town — where lie
the remains of the older inhabitants, was never a public
burial place. It was owned by private individuals, and
the lots were bought from them.
When the question came up for the purchase by the
town of Greensboro of a public cemetery, this place, of
course, was under serious consideration by those who had
the matter in charge. The land was of little value for cul-
tivation, and was really worth only a nominal sum, but
the owners, knowing the interest the public and the rela-
tives of those who were buried there felt in the matter,
demanded what was considered a most exorbitant price
for the plat, which the town authorities refused to pay.
Much bad feeling was engendered, which lasted for quite
a long while — in fact, until all who had to do with the
matter directly, needed for themselves a quiet resting
place in a cemetery.
The present site, known as the Greensboro cemetery,
was bought by the town, and the Stokes graveyard grad-
ually came into disuse as a burial place. Only an occa-
sional interment is ever made therein. It presents a very
sad and dilapidated appearance.
In this old burial place repose the remains of the men
and women who walked the streets of Greensboro when
the town was young, and who owned the lands, the stores
and houses for miles around. Their word was law in
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
View of a portion of the old Stokes Graveyard-
June 28, 1908.
the old days. They established our churches and schools,
directed the affairs of government, carried on the com-
merce, and put forth their best efforts for the uplift of
humanity. But they lived in a period of the history of
this section to which the present generation is a stranger,
— amidst the dazzling splendors of the "old South,"
when men owned slaves by the hundreds, and were lords
upon their large landed estates. The great majority of
them passed from the stage of action years before the
changed conditions (resultant upon the civil war) took
place in the Southland. Their long sleep was undisturbed
by the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry as tre-
mendous issues were fought out and decided in the bloody
battles between the northern and southern troops nearly
half a century ago.
From the present appearance of the Stokes graveyard,
it would seem that those who are buried there have beer,
forgotten. Many of the tombs have toppled over, the
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS 141
brick vaults have crumbled, and only gaping cavities re-
veal, in many instances, the last resting place of those
over whom no tombs were erected. Brambles and briers
run riot everywhere, and it is v/ith difficulty one makes
his way through the tangled mass of undergrowth in this
old burial place of the long ago.
The following are the names of some of those who
have rested out there on the hillside for many, many
years, — names that are known far beyond the confines
of Greensboro and of Alabama :
Robert Heywood McFadden, died 1858; John D. Moore,
died 1849 ; Thomas M. Johnston, died 1863 ; Catherine,
wife of Wm. A. Jones, died 1852; Mary Ellen, wife of
Richard H. Lewis, and daughter of Louis A. Foreman,
died 1840; Thomas H. Shackelford, died 1840; John R.
Witherspoon, died 1852; Wm. T. Bryan, died 1827;
Thomas W. Witherspoon, died 1836; Rev. Thomas S.
Witherspoon, died 1844 ; Robert Franklin Witherspoon,
died 1840 ; Rev. J. Hillhouse, died 1835 ; Elizabeth Stokes,
died 1833 ; George M. Johnston, died 1834 ; James John-
ston Huckabee, died 1854 ; James Huckabee, died 1851 ;
George F. Huckabee, died 1851 ; Elizabeth Eddins, wife
of Dr. D. Eddins, died 1850; Jesse Shivers, died 1845;
Thomas Eddins, died 1850; Miles S. Wright, died 1843;
John Locke, died 1848; Wm. S. Bird, died 1840; James
Cowan, died 1844; William Alfred Locke, died 1845;
Jane, wife of Squire Lowry, died 1840; Martha Stewart,
wife of Larkin Stewart, died 1841 ; William P. Stewart,
died 1843; Amanda F. Peterson, died 1858; Jane Byrd
Page, died 1840; Dr. Elisha Young, senior and junior.
Eight miles to the westward from Greensboro, on the
Tuscaloosa and Sawyerville road near the public thor-
oughfare, is a desolate and neglected graveyard in which
are buried the remains of a number of the French refu-
gees who came to this section of Alabama after the down-
fall of Napoleon at Waterloo. For years many of them
lived in the neighborhood where the graveyard is located.
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
OLD FRENCH GRAVEYARD.
The trees shown in the picture have grown above the graves of a
number of the refugees.
and died exiles from the land of their nativity. In a
radius of five miles resided the Bayols. the Bordens, the
Stollenwercks, the Maniers, the Baumgardiners and
others. Manier was a school teacher, and the house in
which he resided and taught the children of the past
generation is still to be seen. The Roudets and the
Gardins, and perhaps others over whom no tombs are now
standing, are buried in the little cemetery, and some of
them have been resting out there in the wide stretch of
the prairies for more than seventy years. Huge maple
trees have grown up on the graves of the quiet sleepers,
and in the beautiful green foliage the mocking birds
pour forth their sweetest songs throughout the day, and
the silent stars keep watch by night above this last rest-
ing place of those who loved the great Emperor too
well, and who paid the penalty of that devotion by fill-
ing an exile's grave in a land far away from bright and
sunny La Belle France, — as did Napoleon himself on the
lonely Isle of St. Helena.
CLIMATOLOGY OF GREENSBORO, ALABAMA.
Greensboro is situated in the north-central portion
of Hale county, Ala., in latitude 32° 42' north, longitude
87° 35' west, and at an elevation of 220 feet above the sea
The climatic record of Greensboro began in January,
1855, when the station was established by the Smithson-
ian Institute. Robert B. Waller, Sr., Capt. J. W. A. Wright
and Prof. N. T. Lupton were observers at this station dur-
ing the period from 1855 to 1888. The records were
broken at intervals until January, 1888, when the station
was established by the Signal Service — now the Wea-
ther Bureau — with Prof. M. H. Yerby as the observer.
Prof. Yerby made a continuous record up to the time of
his death in October, 1900, since which date his son, W.
E. W. Yerby, has co-operated with the Weather Bureau
in the capacity of observer.
The record shows the average temperature to be 64° ;
the average for the winter, 48° ; spring, 64° ; summer,
79 ° ; autumn, 65". The warmest year was 1891, with an
average temperature of nearly 66° ; the coldest, 1857, with
an average of 61°. The highest temperature recorded,
105°, occurred July 12, 1901 ; the lowest, 5° below zero,
occurred February 13, 1899. The average maximum tem-
perature is 74° ; the average summer maximum is 90°.
The average minimum temperature is 54°, and the aver-
age winter minimum is 37°. The average number of days
with maximum temperature above 90° is fifty-three; the
average number of days with minimum temperature be-
low 32° is thirty-three. The average date of the last
144 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
killing frost in spring is March 20th; the average date
of the first in autumn is November 8th. The earliest kill-
ing frost of which there is a record occurred on October
24th; the latest on April 5th.
The precipitation record, while continuous since 1888
only, covers thirty-five complete years and shows the aver-
age annual amount to be 50 inches. The greatest amount
recorded during any year was 68.98 inches in 1900; the
least yearly amount was 35.67 inches in 1904. February
and March are the wettest months, with an average of
5.42 inches ; October is the driest month, with an average
of 2.01 inches. The greatest amount of rain which fell
during any one month was 14.81 inches, in May, 1903 ;
the least monthly amount recorded was 0.08 inches, in
October, 1904. The average number of days during the
year with .01 inch or more of rain was 94.
The average amount of snowfall for the winter is 0.5
inch. The record shows, however, that snowfalls amount-
ing to more than 4.0 inches occurred during February
of several years, and that 10.0 inches of snow fell during
The prevailing direction of the wind is from the north
during November to February, inclusive, and from the
south during the other months.
The average number of clear days during the year is
191 ; partly cloudy days, 51 ; cloudy days, 123.
The following table shows the monthlv and annual pre-
cipitation at Greensboro during the period in which the
record has been kept :
(In inches and hundredths.)
1858 . . . .
1885 . . . .
1889 . . . .
1895 . . . .
1902 . . . .
1907 . . . .
I JAN. I FEB. I MAR. | APR. I MAY I JUNE I JULY | AUG. | SEPT | OCT. I
5 4. S3
• •- Annual Average 50.15 1-5
Greensboro has been remarkably free from cyclones, —
not one being on record for this station. The most de-
structive that ever visited this immediate section was on
the night of January 21, 1904, Vv^hen Moundville, a town
in the northern part of Hale county, was struck by
a wind of unusual severity. The great majority of the
houses were swept away, and those left standing were
badly damaged. Thirty people — six whites and twenty-
four colored — were killed, and seventy injured, besides
much stock and cattle were killed. Forty houses, the
railroad depot, and seven freight cars were destroyed in
less than a minute's time. The funnel shaped cloud
swooped down upon the village about twelve o'clock, its
course being from the southwest to the northwest. The
property loss was estimated at about $75,000.00.
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
The work of rebuilding the town was begun within a
few days after the terrible calamity, and Moundville is
now among the most thrifty and populous towns in Hale
MAIN STREET OF GREENSBORO
Looking East from the Court House.
Once in its history of nearly a century, Greensboro has
been visited by yellow fever. It was in the year 1897,
and the disease was in the town several months before
the physicians officially declared it to be such. There
were possibly some fifty cases from the middle of August
till the 18th of November, and about a dozen deaths from
that cause during the period. The trains were taken off
the railroad the latter part of October, and were not run
for a week or two. Provisions became scarce, and the
inhabitants, many of them, were on scant rations when
traffic was resumed. Even before the existence of the
fever was announced by Dr. Eiisha Young, there was a
panic among the people, and many endeavored to leave for
other points, but found that they were hemmed in on
all sides, — all places having quarantined against Greens-
boro. Many went to the country and remained until af-
ter the disease was stamped out by the frost on the 18th
day of November. Those who remained did what they
could to alleviate the sufferings of the afflicted, attended
the sick and buried the dead. Business was almost at a
complete standstill during the months of October and
Many excellent citizens died during that year, and it
will long remain a memorable period in the history of the
town. In January, J. P. Lieser, Dr. J. M. Pickett anq
Mrs. Jane Buchanan died. In February, Miss Eliza
Smaw and Charles A. Sheldon. In March, Alfred Drake
and Wilkes Hanna. In April, Mrs. Katherine Randolph
148 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
and J. Pick Moore (near Greensboro.) In May, Capt.
James M. Jack. In June, Mrs. John M. Martin. In Au-
gust, little Mary Quitman Seed. In September, J. C. Dew,
In October, John H. Young, James W. McCrary, Syd John-
son, little Elizabeth Ward, little Margaret Jones and Miss
Ida Dorman. In November, Thomas Q. Smith, Shelby
W. Chadwick, little Annie Parrish, little Lizzie Lawson,
Dr. Thomas R. Ward, Mrs. Maria Williams and Frank
Chadwick. In December, D. J. Castleman.
The death rate among the negroes was also unusually
high during 1897.
A TRIPLE MURDER.
While the occurrence to be noted does not belong, strict-
ly speaking, to the history of Greensboro, yet the citizens
of the town were so wrought up over the matter, and the
parties concerned were so well known here, that it is in-
serted as part of this volume.
The night of December 1, 1897, was a cold, dark and
dreary one. All day long a drizzly rain had fallen, and
it was muddy and sloppy under foot, and the clouds were
black and heavy overhead. It grew no better as night
Sometime after the sun had gone down, Phelan Craw-
ford left Greensboro to spend the night with his father-
in-law — M. C. Hall — who resided about ten miles north-
east of the town. Just before he reached John A. Sing-
ley's residence, — old Warren's store — eight miles out, the
horses he was driving became violently frightened at some
object on the roadside, and made a break to run. The
darkness was so dense that Crawford could see nothing,
but as his horses dashed up the hill in the blackness of
the night, he thought he heard a deep groan coming from
some one in pain or distress. It made his blood run cold —
out there alone in the darkness and rain and stillness
of the night. It was enough to make the stoutest heart
quail with fear. He put whip to his already frightened
TRIPLE MURDER 149
horses, and was soon at the place of his destination.
He was not long in telling his experience, and at once
went out and gathered a number of the neighbors to-
gether, who resolved to go back to the spot where the deep
groan was heard. They plodded on through the night and
mud, back to Singley's home on the roadside. Arriving
there they found that all was quiet and still within. Not
a sound could be heard save the dripping of the rain from
the trees and the rush of the wind as it passed through
the boughs on towards the south. They continued their
journey down the road about fifty yards, and to their
horror they saw in the dim light afforded by a lantern,
a sight to make one's hair stand on end^a man groping
about on his hands and knees, groaning at every breath.
They called to him, — but no answer came. They approach-
ed closer and saw that his hands and clothing were clot-
ted with blood and besmeared with mud. They did not
recognize the man at first, but a closer scrutiny disclosed
the fact that it was John A. Singley, one of the most well-
to-do and respected farmers of Hale county. They ask-
ed him what had happened, but he made no reply — only
pointing to his throat. Then the men discovered thai
it was cut from ear to ear. They lifted him up and as-
sisted him to the house. An attempt to open the front
door disclosed the fact that it was locked. They hastily
broke it in, and then the men fell back with exclamations
of horror, — for indeed it was a ghastly sight that greeted
their gaze. For a moment they stood paralyzed. There
upon the floor lay Mrs. Singley in a pool of blood, her
head crushed and her throat most cruelly cut, cold in
death. But where was the little boy, the only child of the
fond parents? The party searched further, and in an
adjoining room they found the little twelve-year-old son,
lying face downward, butchered in a most brutal manner.
Who did it? What could it all mean? The men had no
idea that Mr. Singley would be able to throw any light
on the mystery, but as he lay on the bed on which he
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
The old stable at the top of the hill. Singley had crawled a hun-
dred yards up the road, and was found near the gate to
had been placed, breathing hard send -g-asping for life, he
beckoned them to come closer. They approached and
began to ask him questions. They discovered that he was
in possession of his mental faculties, and could make
himself understood by signs and nods of the head. He
was asked who had committed the crimes. He indicated
the direction in which the guilty party resided by point-
ing up the road from his home. They called the names of
several persons, but at each he would shake his head.
Finally someone asked if it was Bill Scott, — a negro who
lived three miles above him — and he nodded his head af-
firmatively several times most emphatically.
By this time, the cold gray dawn of another bleak Dec-
ember day began to show itself, and a large number of
people had gathered — some from Greensboro, who had
been notified soon after the discovery of Singley's condi-
The suffering, dying man told all he knew of the hor-
rible crimes. The full particulars — which developed lat-
er — are given as follows :
Bill Scott, a negro to whom Singley had advanced
money and goods for several years, came to the house
TRIPLE MURDER 151
some time after dark on the night of December 1st, and
told Singley — who was sitting by the fire chatting with
his wife and little son — that his (Scott's) mule had got-
ten loose, and asked him to please come out and help him
catch it. Having known Scott for quite a while, and
not for a moment suspecting foul play, Singley at once
lighted a torch and went with Scott down the road. When
they had gone about a hundred and fifty yards from the
house, near the foot of the hill, Scott suddenly turned
upon Singley, and at one stroke felled him to the ground
with a heavy stick. He then took Singley's knife from
his pocket and cut the throat of the prostrate man from
ear to ear — severing everything except the jugular vein.
He left his victim for dead, and hastily went to Singley's
home, cautiously opened the front door, and as Mrs. Sing-
ley, who was sitting near sewing, looked up he struck
her a blow on the head with the stick, knocking her from
the chair, and then cut her throat, killing her instantly.
The little son, who was sitting in the room with his
mother, seeing her so horribly murdered, fled to the ad-
joining room, followed by the fiend, who brained him
with the same cudgel he had used on his father and
mother. He then cut the little boy's throat. Having com-
mitted these awful murders, he went to the bureau
drawer, forced it open, and took therefrom seven hun-
dred dollars — the object he had in view when he went to
After securing the money, Scott locked the front door,
went out the back way, threw the key away, and re-
turned to where he had left Singley on the ground, and
thinking to be doubly sure of his murderous work, he cut
another gash in his throat, and then went to his own home
three miles up the road, and remained there until early
Singley lingered nearly all the next day after being so
horribly butchered, but died when the evening shades
began to gather.
152 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
THE JOHN SINGLEY HOME
Where Mrs. Singley and son were mui'dered.
It was a sad funeral cortege that left the once happy
home of John A. Singley on Saturday, December 3rd.
The hearses containing the coffins of father, mother and
son, followed by a large number of friends and relatives,
slowly wended their way over the hills and vales to the
cemetery hard by the little Methodist church at Havana,
and there, after a most touching funeral sermon, the re-
mains of the three persons — an entire family — were de-
posited in one grave.
Officers and citizens were soon in pursuit of the mur-
derer. His trail was followed all day Thursday and Fri-
day. On Saturday he was captured by a negro man
named Wes James at his (James') home, in Perry county,
whither Scott had gone, and was driven to the house by
hunger, little thinking that James had heard of the mur-
der of the Singleys. In this he was mistaken, and soon
after he entered the house, James leveled his shot gun
on him and told him to consider himself under arrest.
The prisoner was carried to the Perry county jail, and
remained there for a short while, after which he was
taken to Selma and lodged in the jail at that place — it be-
POST OFFICE 153
ing considered unsafe to bring him to Greensboro, so bit-
ter was the feeling and so great was the excitement.
In a day or two after his capture, Scott confessed his
guilt — or at least a part of it — and told that the money
he had taken from the bureau drawer had been divided
with other parties, but that he had gotten half of it, which
he had hidden at a place he designated. A search re-
vealed the truth of the statement, for exactly where he
said he had put the money, three hundred and fifty dol-
lars were found. Before his death, Singley told that
the amount he had in the drawer was seven hundred dol-
lars. The other half of the money was never accounted
Scott endeavored to implicate several other negroes in
the horrible crime, but in every instance the accused par-
ties were proven to have been elsewhere on the night
the Singleys were killed.
The clamor for a speedy trial of the brute was so per-
sistent that Judge John Moore ordered a special term
of the circuit court of Hale county to try Scott, which
was held January 19, 1898. He was brought from the
jail in Selma a week or so before the day set for his trial,
and the author of these lines and Edwin S. Jack, Esq.,
were appointed by the Court to defend him, — he being fi-
nancially unable to employ counsel. The writer recalls
that he had several conversations with Scott relative to
the case, and he would talk freely about the murder of
Singley and his wife, but when asked "What about the
little boy. Bill," he would exclaim : "Oh, for God's sake,
don't talk about that child!" And then he would swear
that he didn't kill him, — that another man did that; that
he loved the boy, and the boy was fond of him.
The day for trial arrived. The town was filled with
people from far and near who wanted to get a glimpse of
this human monster. Trouble was expected, and the
Sherifl^" swore in a number of special deputies. But no
disturbance occurred. The session of the court was ex-
154 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
tremely orderly. The prisoner was arraigned, the indict-
ment charging- him with the murders was read, and Scott
entered a plea of guilty. After confessing his guilt, the
jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first
degree and fixed the punishment at death. The judge
told Scott to stand up, and asked him if he had anything
to say why the sentence of the Court should not be pro-
nounced upon him, and he replied "Nothing." Then the
Judge sentenced him to be hanged by the neck until he
was dead. Scott received the judgment of the Court with-
out a tremor, and was hurried back to jail by the Sheriff
and his deputies, where he was kept closely guarded un-
til February 25, 1898, when he was brought forth and
hung. His body was cut down and buried in the pauper's
field at the expense of the county, — his family refusing
to have anything to do with it.
And thus ended the blackest chapter in the history of
this entire section, and the citizenship felt that the moral
atmosphere was purer by the passing away of such a
demon in human form.
The postoffice at Greensboro was established in Sep-
tember, 1818, and during the ninety years of its existence
there have been seventeen postmasters, as follows:
Frederick Peck, John Street, Sr., John Street, Jr., Her-
man Kohnen, Wm. M. Palmer, Al. Stollenwerck, J. C
Simonds, Wm. Kelly, C. W. Hatch, Wm. H. Sanborn, Jo-
seph Atkins, W. White Jones, James W. Locke, W. White
Jones, G. W. Dugger, James M. Hobson, L. J. Lawson.
It was not until the middle of 1869 that it was made a
money order office, the first postoffice money order being
issued on July 14th, 1869, to D. F. McCrary for the sum
The first rural free delivery route from the Greensboro
office was established in 1906. There are at present three
routes radiating from this point.
Truth Stranger Than Fiction.
In the year 1872 there happened an incident in connec-
tion with the Greensboro postoffice that fully demonstrates
that "truth is stranger than fiction," and further, that cir-
cumstantial evidence is very treacherous at times. The
account of the incident about to be related was written
by Judge Anthony W. Dillard, who held the first session
of the Chancery Court of Hale county in Greensboro on
the 11th day of July, 1869. Judge Dillard was a lawyer
of ability, and was well known to the older citizens of
Greensboro. The facts of the strange case given below
were recalled to his mind by the death of Wm. H. San-
born, which occurred at Village Springs, Ala., on Novem-
ber 24th, 1898, from the effects of a wound received from
the accidental discharge of a shot gun. His remains were
brought to Greensboro and buried in the cemetery here.
156 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Charles W. Hatch is also buried in the same cemetery,
he having died some years before.
The following is Chancellor Dillard's letter :
Gainesville, Ala., Dec. 12, 1898.
Dear Mr. Editor : I see you announce the death of Wm,
H. Sanborn, former postmaster at Greensboro, Ala., and
this induced me to forward to you a copy of the "San An-
tonio Light," containing an article from my pen concern-
ing Mr. Sanborn, which you might re-produce if you think
proper. The United States District Attorney gave me
the facts recited, and that is all I know.
A. W. DILLARD.
As it may prove interesting to your readers, I have
concluded to narrate a case in which a registered letter,
containing the sum of $1,950 in national bank notes, when
it reached the party to whom it was addressed, in the
city of New York, did not contain a single dollar. The
seals on the letter were unbroken, and showed that the
]etter had never been tampered with while enroute.
The letter was registered in the postofRce at Greens-
boro, Ala., by Charles W. Hatch, the postmaster, and sub-
sequently was placed in a mail pouch and locked, in the
presence of Wm. H. Sanborn, Hatch's clerk.
Hatch kept the postofRce on one side of his store, in the
front side of it. In 1872 he had Wm. H. Sanborn, a young
man, aged about 20, employed as a clerk in his store and
in the postoffice.
Young Sanborn ate at his mother's, but slept at night
in the rear end of the store of Hatch, and had access to
the mails and the matter in the i)ostoffice, situated in the
front part of the store.
When the registered letter was delivered to its owner,
in the city of New York, and found to contain no money
at all, the owner immediately telegraphed the facts to the
postmaster general at Washington and requested that a
postal detective be sent to New York. This detective was
POST OFFICE 157
sent at once, and Hatch, the postmaster at Greensboro,
Ala., was notified by the postofRce department of the loss
of the money contained in the registered letter.
Young Sanborn, on hearing of the matter from Hatch,
made an affidavit to the effect that he was a clerk in the
store of Hatch as well as a deputy postmaster; that the
postofRce was in the store; that he saw Hatch count the
money, place it in a registered envelope, seal it, put the
same in the letter mail pouch and lock the mail pouch;
that he knew of his own personal knowledge that Hatch
did not after that re-open or touch the said mail pouch;
that Hatch and himself left the store at sunset at the
same time, and in company; that they walked together
down the street a couple of hundred yards, to a point
where they separated to go to their respective homes,
which were on opposite sides of the town; that he (San-
born) returned to the store immediately after getting his
supper — slept in the store that night; that Hatch did not
re-enter the store and the postoffice that night after they
had quitted it in company, and that he delivered the mail
pouches to the stage driver at the door at 3 o'clock, the
morning following the placing of the registered letter in
the letter pouch.
This affidavit exonerated Hatch, the postmaster, but it
clearly inculpated young Sanborn, when supplemented
by another fact disclosed by the moneyless letter when
it reached New York. After abstracting the money the
thief had placed several old papers in the registered envel-
ope to represent the money in bulk, anct among these
was an almanac, on which was printed the name of a
Greensboro druggist, who kept the patent medicine of the
almanac make for sale. On the almanac was visible the
name of the person in New York to whom the money in
the registered letter had been sent, and this showed the
almanac had been used as a blotting paper on the ad-
dress on the registered letter. Of course, this had all
been done in the postoffice at Greensboro, Ala., and, as
158 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
a matter of course, the robbery of the registered letter
had taken place in the Greensboro postoffice. That was
the only place where the almanac could possibly have
been employed as a blotter on the registered package and
then placed inside the registered envelope prior to its be-
Young Sanborn was arrested by the United States mar-
shal, carried to Mobile, Ala., and in default of bail lodged
in jail. At the first term thereafter of the United States
District court an indictment was returned into court
against Sanborn for robbing the registered package of
$1,950. As he could not give bail, Sanborn remained in
jail in Mobile. Hatch had been summoned as a witness
before the grand jury and had appeared and testified.
Sanborn had been in jail a year. On the Monday pre-
ceding the day set for his trial. District Attorney South-
worth told me that while at the dinner table at the Battle
House he received a card requesting him to call at room
twenty-three immediately after dinner as the writer de-
sired to consult him on government business of an ur-
"I called at room 23," said the district attorney to me,
"and was received by a gentleman, who informed me that
the name on his card was his traveling name ; that he was
a detective in the postoflfice department and had been for
many years, and handed me his commission properly exe-
cuted and avouched by the proper official seal. He then
said, 'I am on my way to Galveston, Texas, to investigate
a crooked transaction in that postoffice in reference to a
registered money package, but was ordered to stop here
and see about the Greensboro robbery of the money in
a registered package.'
"I replied," said Mr. Southworth, "that it was entirely
useless for him to do so, as the thief was in jail, would
be tried and convicted two days later, and that the at-
torneys for the thief had already admitted their client's
case was hopeless, and had entreated him, in considera-
POST OFFICE 159
tion of the previous good character and youthfulness of
the culprit, to consent to the infliction of the lowest pun-
The Detective: "I am paid a yearly salary, sir, and
it is my rule to obey the orders of my superiors to the
letter, and I wish you to allow me to see and examine the
papers in the case. By the by, who is the party in jail
for the Greensboro robbery?"
Southworth : "Young Sanborn, the deputy postmas-
Detective: "Can you send to my room the papers in
the case, Mr. Southworth? As I am a detective it is my
duty and my business to prevent my real character being
discovered; hence I do not care to examine them in your
"Certainly, I will send them to your room by one of the
clerks in my office."
Detective: "Please call here at my room, Mr. South-
worth, after supper."
Mr. Southworth sent the papers to the detective in room
23, and called on him immediately on quitting the dining-
room the same evening.
"Mr. Southworth, you have the wrong man arraigned
for the Greensboro robbery," said the detective.
"Nonsense, sir; the proof is perfectly conclusive. The
man's own voluntary affidavit proves him to be guilty,"
replied Southworth in a tone of pique and irritation.
"Is Charles W. Hatch in the city," asked the detective.
"Yes, sir ; he is one of the witnesses against Sanborn."
"Mr. Southworth, I wish you to send a note to Mr.
Hatch to call at your office at 11 o'clock tomorrow, and
I wish you to ask him the questions written on this slip
of paper. I will drop into your office a few minutes af-
ter eleven as an entire stranger and tell you that I came
from the north and am a stranger in the city, and ask
if I can write a letter in your office. You will please place
me at a desk or table where I can observe Hatch without
160 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
his being aware of it, and contrive somehow to get your
clerk out of your office."
Southworth told me he followed out this plan to the
letter; that at 11 o'clock the next day, Hatch entered
his office, and he sent his clerk out to see a gentleman
who lived some distance off, on a case in court. In a
few minutes the detective entered and asked if he might
write a letter and was placed at a table on one side of
Hatch, but from where he could observe the countenance
"I then commenced asking Hatch the written ques-
tions," said Southworth, "telling him that, as Sanborn
was to be tried the next day, I wished to fully understand
what he (Hatch) could testify to on the trial. I had not
asked him half the questions written on the slip of pa-
per, when the detective arose and stepping in front of
Hatch said to him:
" 'Charles W. Hatch, you are a thief; you stole the $1,950
out of the registered package, and yet you have the base-
ness to come here and swear away the character and
liberty of young Sanborn, whom you know to be inno-
cent. You persuaded him to make the affidavit that
exonerated you, but criminated him. You not only stole
the $1,950 out of the registered package, but six weeks
before you stole $830 out of another registered package.
I am a secret agent in the postoffice department; here is
my commission to prove my statement. I am occupying
room 23 in the Battle House, and I tell you now, that un-
less you appear at my room this evening with a confes-
sion of your guilt in both cases, duly sworn to, and $2,780
in cash, or your bill of exchange at thirty days accepted
by a solvent business firm of this city, I will cause you
to be arrested on both charges. It is a rule with the gov-
ernment, where a thief makes good what he has stolen
prior to the institution of criminal proceedings against
him, not to prosecute him, and you have until 3 o'clock
this evening to refund what you have stolen, but don't
POST OFFICE 161
fail to appear at my room, No. 23, at the hour named."
"The detective," said Mr. Southworth, "turned on his
heel and walked out of my office. I was utterly dum-
founded at his remarks to Hatch, whose character and
standing were first-class. And the other evidence against
Sanborn was so conclusive ! Hatch sat there in his chair,
silent and astounded. At last he said, 'Mr. Southworth,
did you hear what that man said to me?' I nodded my
head by way of reply. 'What must I do about it, Mr,
Southworth?' asked Hatch.
"I told him the charge against him was a calumny and
that his character was his rock of defense, and to treat
the threat of the detective with utter contempt and stern
defiance. In a few moments Hatch withdrew and I saw
him no more that day. At 3:30 o'clock, that evening,
while I was dining in the Battle House, the detective pass-
ed behind my chair and requested me to come to room
23 when I left the dining room.
"I repaired to room 23, impatient to learn the result of
the affair, and the detective placed in my hand the sworn
confession of Hatch acknowledging that he had stolen
both the $830 and the $1,950 out of the registered envel-
opes. In regard to the $1,950 theft Hatch said Sanborn
and himself did leave the store together but that after
he and Sanborn separated, he waited until Sanborn had
gotten out of sight and returned to the postoffice, to
which he also carried a key. Entering the postoffice, he
unlocked the mail pouch, took out the registered package,
broke it open and withdrew the $1,950, took another en-
velope similar to the one first used, placed in the almanac
and some other papers, sealed it, addressed it exactly as
the first one was addressed, placed it in the mail pouch
and then locked it. The detective then exhibited to me
the $2,780 which Hatch had paid him. 'Now, Mr. South-
worth, you must dismiss the case against Sanborn to-
morrow, and state that circumstances have come to light
which establish his innocence; that the real culprit has
162^ HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
confessed his guilt, and refunded the money stolen by
him. I have written the facts to the postoffice depart-
ment, enclosing the resignation of Hatch, and I have
urged and recommended that Sanborn be appointed post-
master at Greensboro, as some reparation for his imipris-
*'I was amazed at this denouement," said Southworth.
"and I asked the detective what proof he had of the guilt
of Hatch. He said he reached New York on the first train
after having been notified the letter had been robbed,
and that the tell-tale almanac had given him a clue as well
as directed suspicion to Hatch himself. He discovered
that Hatch carried on a mercantile business in Greens-
boro, Ala., and was indebted to two merchants in the city
of New York, so he went to see them in person and re-
quested them in case Hatch should remit them money,
either by express or registered letter to apprize him of
it immediately and not to open it until he was present.
I also went to the express ofllice and requested them to
notify me should any money package from C. W. Hatch
reach their office directed to A or B, and hold the package
until I arrived. About a week after my arrival in New
York to investigate the case, the Greensboro merchant
who had remitted the $1,950, forwarded to his merchant
creditor a list of the bills, together with their numbers,
which rendered identification an easy matter. After a
few weeks, two money packages shipped from Newberne;
Ala., by C. W. Hatch to his two merchant creditors in
New York, arrived and I was notified by the express com-
pany; I went to the office and accompanied the express
messenger who had to deliver them. When the two pack-
ages were opened they contained the identical bills taken
from the registered letter. The size and the numbers
tallied with those on the list forwarded by the Greensboro
merchant, made prior to the sending of the money by
registered letter. The two express packages contained
the sum of $830 over and above the $1,950, which led
POST OFFICE 163
me to conclude that Hatch had also abstracted that sum
from a registered letter from Greensboro, that was mon-
eyless when it reached its destination."
Sanborn was appointed postmaster at Greensboro, Ala.,
and my recollection is he held the office on December
23, 1882, the day on which I left Alabama. This case
will deserve a place among the cause celebre, and would
have occupied it, had it appeared in the reports of ad-
judged cases. It suffices to make it highly probable, that
innocent persons are so entangled in a web of circum-
stances as to be sometimes convicted and punished for
crimes which they did not commit. The fall of Hatch,
after leading an honest life for years, is an occurrence
ANTHONY W. DILLARD.
GOVERNORS OF ALABAMA.
During its history, Greensboro has furnished the State
of Alabama with three Governors.
ISRAEL PICKENS, who was Governor from 1821 to
1825, was a resident of the town. He was a member of
the United States Senate at the time of his death, which
occurred in 1827, on the island of Cuba. His remains
were brought back to his old home, and are buried some
three miles south of Greensboro.
GOVERNORS OF ALABAMA
JOHN GAYLE, Governor from 1831 to 1835, was also
a citizen of Greensboro. At the expiration of his term
of ofRce he removed to Mobile and practiced law until
his election to Congress in 1847. In 1849, he was ap-
pointed as Federal District Judge in Alabama, which
position he held until his death in 1858.
Who was Governor of Alabama from 1886 to 1890.
THOMAS SEAY, Governor from 1886 to 1890, was
born and reared in the old town. At the expiration of
his term of office he returned to Greensboro and reopened
his law office, and practiced his profession until his death
on March 30, 1896, at the age of 50 years. He was an
able, upright, conscientious. Christian statesman, and
was an honor to Alabama and to the town of his nativity.
166 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
OTHER STATE OFFICIALS.
HON. WILLIAM D. LEE filled the position of State
Convict Inspector for some years just prior to his death,
which occurred at his home in Greensboro on February
25, 1899. Many needed reforms were inaugurated, and
others projected, in the convict system of Alabama dur-
ing his term of office, for which he is entitled to much
HON. WILEY C. TUNSTALL held the office of Asso-
ciate Railroad Commissioner longer than any other man
has ever occupied it. He went out of office in 1906, after
filling the position for seventeen years. Upon return-
ing to his home in Greensboro, he actively entered into
the work of looking after his large landed interests in
Hale county. He is a gentleman of great force of char-
acter and strong common sense, and has left his imprint
upon the political history of the State. He continues to
manifest a lively interest in public affairs.
Greensboro has furnished some of the most eminent
lawyers in Alabama. Among the number who formerly
resided in the town may be mentioned John Erwin,
William M. Murphy, John Gayle, Israel Pickens, James
D. Webb, A. B. Pittman, Robert B. Waller, Augustus
Benners, Henry Watson, Thomas Seay, Thomas R. Roul-
hac, Augustus A. Coleman, James E. Webb, James J.
Garrett and others.
RICHMOND PEARSON HOBSON.
168 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
RICHMOND PEARSON HOBSON.
The subject of this sketch was born in Greensboro,
Ala., Aug. 17th, 1870. He attended school at the South-
ern University, and so brilliant was he that at the age
of fourteen years he was able to pass successfully the
competitive examination for entrance to the Naval Acad-
emy at Annapolis, from which institution he graduated
at the head of his class in 1889. This latter distinction
entitled him to go to Paris, France, for a course in naval
construction, of which opportunity he eagerly took ad-
vantage. At the expiration of two years he returned
to the United States and was engaged in the Naval Con-
struction Department, and also at Annapolis as a pro-
fessor, which position he was filling at the time of the
breaking out of the war between this country and Spain
in May, 1898.
Lieutenant Hobson asked, and was granted the privi-
lege of joining his pupils to the American squadron, and
he and his class were detailed to the New York, Admiral
Sampson's flagship. When the Admiral decided to block
the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, he asked for plans from
the various officers. Hobson's was adopted, and after
selecting six non-commissioned officers, viz : George
Charette, J. E. Murphy, Oscar Deigan, John Phillips,
John Kelley and Daniel Montague, early in the morning
of June 3rd the men went aboard the collier Merrimac,
and made straight for the entrance to the harbor. Thq
thrilling story of the sinking of the Merrimac is best
told in Hobson's own words as related to a correspondent
of the New York Herald the day he and his men were
released from the Spanish prison, July 6, 1898.
"We have been thirty-three days in a Spanish prison,"
said Lieutenant Hobson, "and the more I think about it,
the more marvelous it seems that we are alive.
"It was about 3 o'clock in the morning of June 3rd
when the Merrimac entered the narrow channel and
RICHMOND PEARSON HOBSON 169
steamed in under the guns of Morro Castle. The still-
ness of death prevailed. It was so dark that we could
scarcely see the land. We had planned to drop our star-
board anchor at a certain point to the right of the chan-
nel, reverse our engines and then swing the Merrimac
around, sinking her directly across the channel.
"This plan was adhered to, but circumstances ren-
dered its execution impossible. When the Mierrimac
poked her nose into the channel our trouble commenced.
The deadly silence was broken by the wash of a small
boat approaching from the shore. I made her out to be
a picket boat.
"She ran close under the stern of the Merrimac and
fired several shots, from which it seemed to be three-
pounder guns. The Merrimac's rudder was carried
away by the fire. That is why the collier was not sunk
across the channel.
"We did not discover the loss of the rudder until
Murphy cast anchor. We found that the Merrimac
would not answer to her helm, and were compelled to
make the best of the situation.
"The run up the channel was very exciting. The picket
boat had given the alarm, and in a moment the guns of
the Vizcaya, the Oquendo and the shore batteries were
turned upon us. Submarine mines and torpedoes were
exploded all about us, adding to the excitement. The
mines did no damage, although we could hear rumbling
and could feel the ship tremble.
"We were running without lights and only the dark-
ness saved us from utter destruction. When the ship
was at the desired position and we found that the rudder
was gone, I called the men on deck. While they were
launching the catamaran, I touched off the explosives.
"At the same moment, two torpedoes, fired from the
Reina Mercedes, struck the Merrimac amidship. I can-
not say whether our own explosives or the Spanish tor-
170 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
pedoes did the work, but the Merrimac was lifted out
of the water and almost rent asunder.
"As she settled down we scrambled overboard and
cut away the catamaran. A great cheer went up from
the forts and the warships as the hull of the collier
foundered, the Spaniards thinking the Merrimac was
an American warship.
"We attempted to get out of the harbor on the cata-
maran, but as the tide was running, daylight found us
still struggling in the water. Then for the first time
the Spaniards saw us and a boat from the Mercedes
picked us up. It was then shortly after five o'clock and
we had been in the water for more than an hour.
"We were taken on board the Reina Mercedes and
later we were sent to Moro Castle. In Moro we were
confined in cells in the inner side of the fortress and
were there the first day the fleet bombarded Moro. I
could only hear the whistling of the shells and the noise
they made when they struck, but I judged from the con-
versation of the guards that the shells did considerable
"After the bombardment, Mr. Ramsden, the British
Consul protested, and we were removed to the hospital.
There I was separated from the other men of our crew
and could see them only by special permission. Monta-
gue and Kelley fell ill two weeks ago, suffering from
malaria, and I was permitted to visit them twice.
"Mr. Ramsden was very kind to us and demanded that
Montague and Kelley be removed to better quarters in
the hospital. This was done.
"As for myself, there is little to say. The Spaniards
were not disposed to do much for the comfort of any
prisoners like us, but after our army had taken some
of their men as prisoners, their treatment was better."
In 1900, Lieutenant Hobson was advanced to the posi-
tion of Captain in the navy. His eyesight was injured
in service rendered in raising the sunken Spanish ves-
RICHMOND PEARSON HOBSON 171
sels in Cuban waters, and also those in the harbor at
Manila, and he asked to be placed on the retired list
of the navy by Congress, which request was refused,
and Captain Hobson tendered his resignation, with the
parting message to the Navy Departrnent that whenever
his country needed him he was ready to respond.
In 1904, Captain Hobson made the race for Congress
against John H. Bankhead in the Sixth Alabama Con-
gressional District, but was unsuccessful. He again
contested for the place in 1906, and was nominated and
elected, and is at this writing filling the position. Cap-
tain Hobson was married in New York on May 25th,
1905, to Miss Griselda Houston Hull.
The Captain's native town of Greensboro has watched.,
and will continue to watch, with pleasure his brilliant
This chapter is devoted to short sketches of those citi-
zens of Greensboro who have passed their three score
and ten years. There are fifteen — nine ladies and six
gentlemen. Their combined ages sum up a total of 1,184
years — an average of nearly 80 years each. The oldest
person is 97 years of age, and the youngest appearing
in the list is 71.
They are grand old people — forming a connecting link
between the present generation and the one of the past —
a generation that knew and loved the "Old South" when
it was at the very zenith of its glory and power.
MRS. M. D. LIGHTFOOT,
jreensboro's Oldest Citizen.
OLDEST INHABITANTS 173
Mrs. M. D. Lightfoot.
The oldest citizen, in point of years, is Mrs. Martha
Diana Lightfoot, widow of Philip C. Lightfoot who died
in 1866. Mrs. Lightfoot was born in Richmond, Va.,
on the 11th of May, 1811, and is therefore 97 years old.
She was a daughter of Dr. Hermon Byrd Sneed, for
many years a Baptist minister. She came to Greene
county, Alabama, with her husband in 1841, and has
resided in Greensboro and vicinity since that time. She
has been a member of the Methodist church at this place
for sixty-four years. She has been a member of the
church since 1829, joining at Huntsville that year, when
the Revs. A. L. P. Green and John Hannon were on that
Mrs. M. L. Nutting.
Maria Louise Price was born in Newberry, S. C.,
October 21, 1818. She moved to Columbia, S. C., when
seven years of age. In February, 1836, she was mar-
ried to Samuel Nutting, and left immediately with him
for Greensboro, Alabama, making the entire journey by
stage coach. They arrived April 1, 1836, and since that
time Mrs. Nutting has continued to live in the town.
She has occupied the house on Main street in which
she at present resides since 1841. In the younger years
of her life she is said to have been regarded as one of
the most beautiful women of this entire section.
Mrs. Eliza A. Tunstall.
Mrs. Eliza A. Tunstall is the daughter of the late
Mr. and Mrs. Wiley J. Groom, who came from North
Carolina in 1818, and settled near Mussle Shoals, Ala.,
where Mrs. Tunstall was born on March 4th, 1820. She
was educated at Huntsville and LaGrange, and was at
school at the former place when the stars fell in 1833.,
She came with her parents to Greensboro in 1836, where,
two years after her arrival, she was married to Dr.
James Tunstall of Virginia, and has since that date con-
174 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
tinuously resided in the town. She now makes her home
with her daughter, Mrs. William B. Inge in Greensboro.
Mrs, Tunstall is the mother of three children, viz : Col.
Wiley C. Tunstall and Mrs. Wm. B. Inge of Greensboro,
and the late Dr. James Tunstall, who died some years
ago. She also had the responsibility of rearing five sis-
ters, the parents having died, leaving the little girls in
her care, and they made their home with her until their
marriage. The eldest sister married Mr. Eugene Hill of
Greensboro; the second married Mr. Jack Chadwick of
Texas ; the third. Judge Wm. Rodman of North Caro-
lina; the fourth, Mr. Luther Hill of Montgomery, and
the fifth, Capt. Wm. Selden of Faunsdale.
Mrs. Tunstall joined the Presbyterian church in 1838,
and has been a consistent member for the past seventy
years. She is a woman of remarkably fine sense, and
an honor to the community in which she has resided for
so many years.
Mrs. S. A. Kimhrougli.
Mrs. Sarah Angeline Anderson Kimbrough was born
on the 27th of August, 1820, near Mt. Zion Church in
Greene (now Hale) county, Ala. In 1843, she was mar-
ried to Col. J. M. P. Hanna, and there were three chil-
dren born of this union, viz : Robert C, Irene H., and
T. A. Hanna. Her daughter, Irene, married John E.
Love, Esq., at one time a prominent attorney in Greens-
boro, but who now resides in St. Louis, Mo. After the
death of her first husband, the subject of this brief
sketch married E. L. Kimbrough in 1859, and of this
marriage there is only one child, Mr. Edward L. Kim-
brough of St. Louis, Mo., who, with his wife, spends
much of his time in Greensboro, — a gentleman noted for
his fine business sense and splendid social qualities.
Mrs. Kimbrough joined Concord Presbyterian church
near Havana, over seventy-five years ago, and has re-
mained a devout member of this denomination ever
OLDEST INHABITANTS 175
since. She has lived all of her long and useful life —
extending now over a period of eighty-eight years — in
Greensboro and vicinity.
Mrs. Mary Johnson Hapvel.
Mrs. Mary Johnson Happel is a daughter of Jesse
Gibson and Susan Holman Gibson, and was born in
Lebanon, Tenn., on November 14, 1826. She came with
her parents to Greensboro in March, 1836, and lived in
a log hut which was situated near where the residence
of her daughter, Mrs. Wm. N. Knight now stands, which
latter residence Mrs. Happel's father, Jesse Gibson, built
in 1837. Mrs. Happel had a sister, Mrs. Susan Callie
Yerby, who also resided nearly all her life in Greens-
boro. Mrs. Yerby was born in Lebanon. Tenn., and died
in May, 1904, at the age of 73 years. There were two
Gibson boys, William and German, both of whom were
Confederate soldiers, enlisting in Selma, where they re-
sided at the time of the breaking out of the war. In a
letter before us, written by Mrs. Happel, she says :
"Greensboro improved considerably during the years 1836-37.
Several new residences were built, and the town boasted of two
Female Schools — one where the present Academy building is now
located, and the other in a two story frame house situated on
the corner where the court house now stands. This school was
taught by a Mrs. Cottrell — grandma Ccttrell, as we lovingly called
her. She was a widow of a Methodist preacher, and mother of
two preachers, Dr. Joseph Cottrell and Rev. Hugh Blair Cottrell.
At this time the Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists had
weather-boarded churches, not lathed and plastered. The Epis-
copalians had no church, but held services in the Academy. In
1839, there was a great religious revival under the pastorate of
the Rev. Mr. Boatright of the Methodist church, which was a
great blessing to the town After this, each denomination felt the
need of larger and better houses of worship, and proceeded to build
them. The Methodists at this time were worshiping in a frame
building located where the negro Methodist church stands in the
rear of the Dr. Wai"d residence. The Methodists bought the lot
on which their church is now located, and turned the old church
over to the colored membei's."
176 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Mrs, Happel was married in Greensboro in April, 1844,
to Philip Happel, Rev. Thomas Capers officiating. She
resided in the town until a few years ago, when she
went to live with her son, Dr. Thomas J. Happel, in
Trenton, Tenn. She is a woman of remarkably fine
sense, strong character, and a devout member of the
Methodist church, with which denomination she united
in 1843 under the pastorate of Rev. T. W. Dorman.
Mrs. M. W. Wadsivorth.
Mrs. Mary Winifred Wadsworth was born at La-
Grange, Alabama, November 22, 1829. Her parents, Dr.
Alexander Sledge and Winifred Bryan Lane, moved to
Alabama from North Carolina in 1822, and settled at
LaGrange, in North Alabama. Dr. Sledge was one of
the founders and a liberal supporter of the once famous
LaGrange College. Early in 1830, Dr. Sledge moved
with his family to Marengo county, and afterwards set-
tled near Greensboro. In 1850, the subject of this sketch
was married to Rev. Dr. Edward Wadsworth, who at
the time, was president of LaGrange College — which Col-
lege was burned by the Federal troops during the civil
war. Dr. Wadsworth was a member of the first Faculty
of the Southern University, and while the buildings were
being erected he moved to Greensboro and served the
Methodist church at this place for two years, that period
being the limit a pastor was allowed to serve a church.
While awaiting the completion of the building of the
Southern University, Dr. Wadsworth served the Meth-
odist church at Selma for two years, and in 1859 he re-
turned to Greensboro and entered upon his duties as a
member of the University Faculty, which position he
held for a number of years. He died in 1883, at his
home in Greensboro. Mrs. Wadsworth has been identi-
fied with the town for the past half century, and no one
was ever held in higher esteem. She has been a mem-
ber of the Methodist church for sixty-two years.
Her sisters, Mrs. Margaret J. Peterson and Mrs. Belle
Castleman, and her brothers, Messrs. Alexander and
James Sledge are now residents of Greensboro.
REV. RICHARD HOOKER COBBS, D. D.,
Who has for the past forty-eig-ht years been the Rector of St.
Paul's Episcopal Church in Greensboro.
Rev. R. H. Cobbs, D. D.
The Rev. Dr. Richard Hooker Cobbs came to Greens-
boro in 1860, and became rector of St. Paul's church,
which position he held continuously for forty-seven
years, resigning as rector in September, 1907, — but de-
cided in March, 1908, to again accept the rectorship of
this church. He was born in Montgomery, September
7th, 1835, and is a son of Bishop Nicholas Hamner Cobbs,
the first Bishop of the Diocese of Alabama. Dr. Cobbs
graduated from the State University of Alabama in the
class of 1855. In May, 1862, he married Fannie A. Avery,
who is yet with him to cheer and bless his declining
178 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
years. Dr. -Cobbs is much beloved by the people he has
served so long and faithfully.
Mrs. Margaret C. Gidleij.
Among the oldest people now residing in Greensboro
is Mrs. Margaret Clemintine Gulley, the mother of Frank
D. Gulley, one of the most highly respected citizens of
the town. She has two other children living, to-wit:
Walter Gulley and E. L. Gulley who reside in Tuscaloosa
and Jackson, Miss., respectively. Mrs. Gulley's parents
were Samuel Oliver Davidson and Nancy Catherine
Lowry, Mrs. Davidson being the daughter of Mr. Lowry,
among the early comers to Greensboro. Mrs. Gulley was;
born near Salisbury, N. C., April 6th, 1827. At the
age of thirteen years, she came to Greensboro and at-
tended school at the Greensboro Female Academy, which
was then in charge of Mr. Fay. She also went there af-
ter Mr. Bestor was m.ade President. She has been a
member of the church since 1843. On July 25, 1855,
she was married to Bryant Gulley, by Rev. James C,
Mitchell, Pastor of the Greensboro Presbyterian church.
Mr. Gulley was at one time a prominent merchant at
old Erie. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Gulley
resided in Greensboro for six years, and then moved to
Greene county, Alabama, where they resided until Mr.
Gulley's death on December 24th, 1887, at the age of
82 years. The next year Mrs. Gulley removed to Greens-
boro where she has since lived with her son, Frank D.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ward
Mrs. Elizabeth Ward was born in or near Greensboro,
Alabama, in the year 1836. She is a daughter of the
late Col. John H. Burton, who came to this section in
1833 from Campbell county, Virginia, and settled
about eight miles from Greensboro in the prai-
ries. In 1850 he moved to Greensboro and purchased
OLDEST INHABITAXTS 179
the lot now owned by Madison Jones. He was a prom-
inent citizen for many years. Mrs. Ward's mother was
Miss Whitworth, a daughter of Jeremiah Whitworth,
also a Virginian, who owned and resided on the (now).
Hobbie place near Cedarville. There were four children
of this marriage, J. L. Burton, of Crescent City, Fla. ;
Dr. J. W. Burton and W. C. Burton (both deceased), and
Elizabeth Burton. All three of the sons were Confed-
erate soldiers. Miss Burton married the late Dr. Thomas
R. Ward in 1858, who was for more than forty years a
prominent physician in Greensboro. Dr. Ward was a
North Carolinian by birth, and came to Greensboro when
quite a young man. He first practiced medicine with
the late Dr. F. M. Peterson, and afterwards alone until
his death in 1897. He was among the brightest and
most prominent Masons in the State, and for twenty-
two years was Master of the Lodge at Greensboro. He
officiated as Master of the Lodge at the laying of the
corner stone of the Southern University in 1857. Dr.
and Mrs. Ward had three children, to-wit: Dr. E. Bur-
ton Ward, an honored physician in Selma, Col. Thomas R.
Ward, a prosperous merchant of Greensboro, and Mrs.
Bessie Norvell Ward Colebeck, who died in June, 1906,
Mrs. Elizabeth Ward was educated in Lynchburg, Va.
For more than half a century she has been a member
of the Methodist church. She is much beloved by a large
circle of friends.
Hon. George Erivin.
At the time this is written (1908) Hon. George Erwin
is the oldest native-born citizen of Greensboro. He was
born in the year 1834 in the then corporate limits of
the town, and has resided here ever since. He is a son
of the late John Erwin, the eminent jurist, who was
among the earliest inhabitants of Greensboro. Mr. Er-
win is a highly cultured gentleman, and represented Hale
countv in the Legislature the session of 1884-85. He
180 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
married a daughter of the late Col. Cadwalader Jones of
North Carolina, in 1857 — they having celebrated their
"golden wedding" in 1907. Though 74 years of age, Mr.
Erwin's intellect is as clear and forceful as ever, and
he lives among his books when not looking after his farm-
ing interests. His memory of past events is remarkably
good, and to him we are indebted for much valuable data
contained in this volume.
Mrs. M. C. Keady.
Mrs. Martha Chambers Keady is a daughter of John
and Katherine Chambers, and was born at Canonsburg,
Pa., September 12, 1837. She was well educated in the
schools of her native State. In August, 1869, she was
married to Dr. W. G. Keady, who was born in Baltimore.
Md., in 1833. He was a Confederate soldier for four years
— first joining Watson's (Mississippi) Battery. At the
siege of Vicksburg he lost an arm, and upon the fall of
the town he was taken prisoner &nd sent to Camp Doug-
lass, where he remained until his exchange. He then
went to Georgia and joined the Confederate troops, and
remained with them until the close of the war. After
the cessation of hostilities he taught school at Macon.
Ga., and other places. In 1871, Dr. Keady entered the
Presbyterian ministry. His first charge was at Wil-
liamsville, 111. He came to Greensboro from Kentucky
in 1889, and served as pastor of the Presbyterian church
at this place until his death in 1902. He was also for
several years President of the Greensboro Female Acad-
emy. Early in life, Mrs. Keady joined the church, and
for many long years has been a consistent member of
the Presbyterian denomination. She is a woman of
remarkably fine intellect, and is much beloved by a large
circle of friends. She has two children, Geo. K. Keady
editor of The Beacon, with whom she resides, and Wm
M. Keady, a prosperous druggist at Norcross, Ga.
OLDEST INHABITANTS 181
Rev. E. M. Turner.
Rev. E. M. Turner, who has, for the past twenty years,
been a citizen of Greensboro, was born in Walker county,
Alabama, December 1, 1836. His father, Rev. John Tur-
ner, was a Methodist minister, and was admitted to the
Virginia conference in 1797. In the course of his min-
istry he served Newbern, S. C, Caswell, N. C, and towns
in Virginia. At the Conference of 1801 he located, on
account of ill health and moved to Walker county, Ala.,
and in 1844 he moved to Greene county, where he re-
sided until his death. His wife was a Miss Kimbrough
of North Carolina. The subject of this sketch, Rev. E.
M. Turner, was educated in the common schools in Greene
county, Ala. He joined the church in 1845. When 8
or 9 years of age, his father put him. in a printing office
at Eutaw, Ala., The Whig, then conducted by Houston
& Nunnalee, where he remained for quite a while. En-
listed in the Confederate army in April, 1861, in a
regiment formed by Hon. W. R. Smith. Went into camp
of instruction at Tuscumbia, Ala. In September he was
elected First Lieutenant of Company E, and on reaching
Virginia was promoted to Captain of the Company. The
Regimental number M^as the 26th Alabama, and upon
the resignation of Smith, who was elected to the Con-
federate Congress, E. A. O'Neal was made Colonel. Cap-
tain Turner served under both Lee and Jackson. In
1864, he was transferred to the Western army, and serv-
ed under Johnston and Hood until the surrender at
Greensboro, N. C, in 1865. He has a war record that
few possess, but one, by conversing with him, would
never know he served four years in the army, so modest
is he with reference to matters pertaining strictly to
Capt. Turner joined the Alabama Conference of the
Methodist church at Mobile in December, 1865, and was
in the active ministry for many years. He is spending
182 HISTORY OF GREEXSBORO. ALA.
his declining years with his wife and daughter in his
neat and modest home in Greensboro, among friends who
honor him for his upright, Christian life, and his genial,
sunny disposition. He has threa sons and one daughter :
J. G. Turner of Greensboro, Ala., Dr. E. K. Turner of
Oxford, Ga., Walter Turner of Atlanta, Ga., and Miss
Clara Turner of Greensboro.
Thomas F. Stickney is possibly the oldest male resi-
dent of Greensboro. He was born April 14th, 1830, at
the old homestead three miles west of town, now owned
and occupied by his brother, Edward L. Stickney. His
father, Joseph Blodgett Stickney, came from England
in 1800, and located in North Carolina, where he mar-
ried Harriet Grice. After living there for some time,
he moved to this section, and located three miles west
of the present town of Greensboro, and about the year
1820, he purchased 840 acres of land from the
famous General Lefebvre, who had come in possession
of it under what is known as the French grant. Mr.
Thomas Stickney relates that he had often heard his
father speak of the noted Frenchman — that he was a
frequent visitor to the Stickney home, and the descend-
ants now have in their possession a number of memen-
toes that were presented the elder Stickney by the Gen-
eral. Lefebvre frequently visited the town of Greens-
boro in its early days. Of this distinguished character,
Pickett has the following in his History of Alabama :
•'A colony of French soughl; Alabama as an asylum from Bour-
bon persecution. The winter of 1816 and 1817 found many of these
distinguished refugees in Philadelphia. An ordinance of Louis
had forced them from France on account of their attachment to
Napoleon, who was then an exile upon St. Helena.
"Among those who were exiled was Count Lefebvre Desnoettes,
who had been a cavalry officer under Bonaparte with the rank
of lieutenant-general. Accompanying Napoleon in his march to
Russia, he rode with him in his carriage in his disastrous i-e-
treat over the snows of that country. He had served in Spain
in many bloody wars, and was an active participant in the dread-
OLDEST INHABITANTS 183
ful battle of Sarragjossa. Vivacious, active and handsome in per-
son and graceful in carriage, he was the most splendid rider of
the age in which he lived. His imperial master was so much at-
tached to him that when forced to abdicate the throne and about
to depart for Elba and while addressing his weeping and sorrow-
ing officers at Fontainbleau, said, 'I cannot take leave of you all,
but will embrace General Desnoettes in behalf of you all.' He
then pressed him to his bosom in the most affectionate manner.
Napoleon frequently made him valuable presents, and influenced
his cousin, the sister of the celebrated banker. La Fitte to es-
pouse him. While he was at Demopolis, that lady made an attempt
to join him in exile, but being shipwrecked on the coast of Eng-
land, was forced to return to France. At length she negotiated
with the French government for his return, and, through the in-
fluence of her family, succeeded in obtaining permission for him
to reside in Belgium. This induced Count Lefebvre in 1823, to
leave Alabama in the ship Albion, which was wrecked upon the
coast of Ireland, at Old Kinsale, in view of an immense number
of people who were standing on the cliffs. The distinguished re-
fugee was washed overboard, and the ocean became his grave."
J. J. Cluis, mentioned elsewhere in this volume as
having kept a hotel in Greensboro, came to this section
with Count Lefebvre, and was a man of note under the
Napoleonic rule in France.
Joseph B. Stickney was the father of eleven children,
as follows: Rev. William A. Stickney, Frederick G.,
Joseph B., Edward L., Thomas F., John, and Richard H.
Stickney, the latter being at the time of his death in
February, 1904, among the most prosperous and highly
respected citizens of Greensboro. The daughters were:
Mrs. Eliza Street, Mrs. Harriet J. Charles, Mrs. Olivia
Morgan, and Miss Mary Stickney, all deceased.
Mr. Thomas F. Stickney says that soon after his father
settled near Greensboro others came from North Caro-
lina and located to the w^est of the present town, — among
the number. Off a Shivers, Stith Evans, Benjamin Evans,
the Morrisons and the Arnolds.
William A. Avery.
The subject of this sketch, William A. Avery, was born
four miles north of Greensboro on March 1, 1832. His
father was William Ingram Avery, who came from
North Carolina in 1818, and located near the present
184 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
town of Greensboro. He built the first frame house
ever erected in the town in 1818, for Peck, Brewer and
Bates. It was located on the site on which is now situated
the two story brick building occupied now by George
Findlay and The Watchman office. William A. Avery
has resided all his life in the territory of what is now
Hale county. For the past twenty years he has lived
with his family in Greensboro. In 1855 he married Miss
Sarah Elizabeth Walton, daughter of the late Joseph
Walton, who is remembered by many of the people as
among the best and most highly respected citizens of
Hale county. Mr, Avery served for several years dur-
ing the war between the States in the Confederate ar-
senal at Selma, Ala., engaged in the work of making gun
carriages. He was so employed when Wilson's Raiders
captured the city. Mr. Avery has been a member of the
Methodist church for the past 45 years. He has always
enjoyed the reputation of being a good citizen and a
TJiomas J. Khmuird.
Thomas J. Kinnaird is among the oldest citizens of
this vicinity. He has resided in Greensboro for a num-
ber of years past. He is the son of James A. Kinnaird
and Mary McMaster Kinnaird. The father came to this
county when quite a young man from North Carolina.
His mother was a native of Greene county, Alabama.
They resided at Green Springs, near Havana, Ala., at
which place Thomas J. Kinnaird was born April 30th,
1830, and he has lived in what is now Hale county all
his life. In 1855 he married Miss Keziah Lavender of
Newbern, Ala. In 1862 Mr. Kinnaird enlisted in the Con-
federate army, and was a member of Company C, 36th
Alabama Regiment — Captain Wemyss' company — and
was in the Tennessee army and saw actual service
from Chickamauga to Spanish Fort. He served for four
OLDEST INHABITANTS 185
years, and was in many battles, but did not receive a
Mr. Kinnaird has been a member of the Baptist church
for the past fifty years, having joined Bethsaida church
in 1858. He is one of the original members of the pres-
ent Greensboro Baptist church, being present at the
organization in February, 1894. He has always enjoyed
the respect and confidence of the people among whom
he has lived so long.
John L. Croom.
One of the oldest living former residents of Greens-
boro is Mr. John L. Croom, who has kindly furnished
the author valuable information for this volume. He
was born at LaGrange, Ala., Nov. 26, 1826, and came
with his father, Wiley J. Croom, to Greensboro in 1834,
and resided here until 1850, when he moved to Mata-
gordo, Texas, and for the past fifty-eight years has been
a resident of Matagordo and Wharton counties. He
served for ten years as County and District Clerk of
Matagordo, and since the expiration of his term of office
he has been engaged in the real estate business. He was
orderly sergeant in Company A — Andrew L. Pickens,
Captain, John R. Coffee, Colonel — First Regiment Ala-
bama Volunteers in the Mexican War, and was honorably
discharged from service, on account of disability to
perform military duty, in July, 1846. In November of
the same year he married Miss Ellen R. Davis, at Mata-
gordo, Texas, a lady who was born and reared at Frank-
lin, Tenn. She died in Wharton, Texas, in October, 1901.
There were two children from this union, Judge W. J.
Croom, and Mrs. Rosa F. McCamly, widow of the late
Fred C. McCamly, a prominent lawyer of Texas. Mr.
Croom is a brother of Mrs. Eliza A. Tunstall of Greens-
boro, and an uncle of Col. Wiley C. Tunstall of this
place. He is spending the evening of his life happily
186 HISTORY OF GREEXSBORO, ALA.
with his children, grand children and great grand chil-
dren in Wharton, Texas.
Mr. Croom furnishes the following list of old citizens
of Greensboro whom he remembers as residing here dur-
ing his early residence in the town :
Gen. Patrick May, soldier of the war of 1812 ; John
May, cotton planter; Charles or Robert Fortune, dealer
in stock, and also kept a stage stand on his place at the
forks of the road south of the depot; James McDonald,
cotton planter ; Dr. McCann ; Shelby Chadwick, mer-
chant; I. N. Chadwick, merchant; Jack Shackelford,
merchant; V. Boardman, jeweler; Sam Cowin, hotel
keeper; John G. Harvey, editor Alabama Beacon; Mat-
thew Hobson, planter — father of Mrs. W. C. Tunstall
and Mrs. W. D. Lee; A. Benners, Edward Benners, Jas.
D. Webb, Wm. P. Webb, John Erwin, Wm. M. Murphy,
Rob't. B. Waller, Henry Watson, Rob't D. Huckabee, law-
yers; Samuel Webb, merchant; Albert Hendon, mer-
chant; Thomas M. Johnston, merchant and planter; Maj.
Bell, soldier of war of 1812; his sons were John, Bush-
rod, William and Frank Bell; Frederick Peck, merchant,
and first postmaster; D. P. Stockton; Joseph and Jesse
Seligman, the latter became a noted banker in New York ;
A. C. Horton, who was the first Lt. Governor of Texas;
Dr. Sydney Vaughan; James Levi Tunstall, Thomas
Webb, Wm. T. Hendon, P. W. Kittrell, Wm. Street, all
physicians; one son of Dr. Kittrell and another of Dr.
Street became district judges in Texas; Rev. D. P. Bes-
tor; Rev. Sydenham Witherspoon; Rev. John DuBois,
first manufacturer of cotton gins; Samuel Duncan, Ben-
jamin and Geo. W. Briggs; Andrew J. Briggs, Samuel G,
Hardaway, sheriff; Jos. Atkins, druggist; A. Stollen-
werck, druggist; A. M. Dorman, merchant; Col. Isaac
Croom, planter, and president of State Agricultural So-
ciety; Jessie H. Croom, planter; Dr. Stephen Davis; Dr.
Wm. T. Barnum ; Calvin Norris, planter ; Dr. Wm. Jones ;
Samuel Boykin; Nat M. Murphy, lawyer; Mr. Murray,
OLDEST INHABITANTS 187
first fashionable tailor ; Mrs. Pasteur, Mrs. Dickson, Mrs
Fowler, among the first settlers of Greensboro ; Dr. R. U.
DuBois, dentist; Samuel DuBois; David Barckley; Jo-
seph Simmons, dry goods clerk and dancing master; Dr.
Richard Groom ; Mr. Reynolds, first tinner in the town ;
Dr. Jos. Reynolds, his son ; B. F. Avery, ancestor of B.
F. Avery & Sons of Louisville, Ky., celebrated for making
Avery's plows; Thos. Archer, a great wit and ladies'
man; Rev. Thos. Ghilton, grandfather of ex-Gongress-
man Horace Ghilton of Texas; Dr. Rufus Haywood, an
eminent surgeon ; Wm. P. Eaton, graduate of Yale col-
lege, school teacher; Mr. Whelan, tailor and only Roman
Catholic in Greensboro in the early days.
CHAPTER OF MISCELLANEOUS.
Diligent search has failed to disclose a satisfactory list
of the names of those who have served as Mayor of
Greensboro, but we give all that could be found, as fol-
lows : John Clement, Charles Whelan, James J. Garrett,
James M. Hobson, Thomas R. Roulhac, Charles E. Wal-
ler, L. J, Lawson, Amasa M. Dorman, W. W. Powers,
E. B. Randolph, Robert F. Otts, Wm. E. W. Yerby, N. L.
Castleman, John G. Apsey, Jr.
The office of marshal was not created until 1859, and
since that time the following have served in that capacity :
Jno. B. Williams, George W. Briggs, Wm. A. Bell, Wm.
Roberts, J. D. Hamilton, F. H. Johnson, W. P. Johnson,
A. B. Mackey, W. E. Torbett, J. W. Otts, John Erwin.
It seems that it has been only of recent years that
Greensboro realized the importance of having a night
watchman, for so far as the records of the old days show,
no such office existed — that is to say as far back as forty
years ago. Those who have held this office are: Ed.
Gayle, M. C. Knight, C. C. Wilkerson, Reuben Johnson,
D. A. Seale, Rufus DuBois, Walter Seale, Wm. Stokes.
On the night of October 16, 1874, two Greensboro citi-
zens — John H. Atkins and J. T. Walker — became engaged
in a personal difficulty on the sidewalk between the de-
Graffenried & Evins law office and Dr. Carson's front
gate, and opened fire upon each other. The night watch-
man at that time was M. C. Knight, who was standing
across the street. He rushed in between the two men,
and a ball from one of the weapons struck him and killed
him almost instantly. It was never definitely known
from which of the two pistols the fatal shot was fired.
Both the men were tried and acquitted. Knight was a
comparative stranger in Greensboro, coming, he stated
upon his arrival here, from McMinnville, Tenn, Very
little was ever learned about who he was, or why he
came to this place.
FRANCIS MARION PETERSON, M. D.,
Who was a distinguished physician and honored citizen of Greens-
boro from 1846 until his death in 1898.
Greensboro has always been blessed with the best med-
ical skill in the person of her physicians. Among those
who formerly practiced their profession here may be
190 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
mentioned Francis Marion Peterson, Wm. Jones, John
H. Parrish, T. C. Osborne, Charles Whelan, Beverlj';
Griggs, James J. Peterson, Elisha Young, Joseph M.
Pickett, Thomas R. Ward, David J. Castleman.
The population of Greensboro in 1860 was (about)
1600; in 1870 it was 1760; in 1880, 1834; in 1890, 1759;
in 1900, 2416. These figures (except for 1860) were ob-
tained from the Census Bureau in Washington, D. C.
Burning of the Greene County Court House.
So intimately was Eutaw and Greensboro associated
in the days before Hale was made a county, that a note
of the fact that the court house at Eutaw was destroyed
by fire on March 20th, 1868, will not be out of place in
these pages. From the Alabama Beacon of March 28,
1868, the following is taken :
"THE COURT HOUSE AT EUTAW DESTROYED BY FIRE
— Greene county has sustained a heavy loss. The Court House at
Eutaw was destroyed by fire on Friday morning of last weel<;, with
all the records, papers etc., in the office of the Circuit Clerk, in
which the fire originated. The records and papei's in the office
of the Sheriff", Register in Chancery and County Treasurer were
all saved. The Eutaw Court House was one of the most commodi-
ous and costly in the State. Its destruction at any time would
have been a heavy loss to the county, but at this junctui-e, when
most people find it extremely difficult to support their families
and nay their taxes, it will prove a most serious calamity, es-
pecially so, in view of the loss of the valuable records and papers.
The circumstances connected with the origin of the fire, as we
have heard them, leave no room for doubt as to its having been
the work of an incendiary. They also create the presumption that
the deed was done for the purpose of destroying certain recoi'ds
or papers in the Clei'k's office."
The first genuine ribbon (or sugar) cane ever success-
fully planted in Hale county was cultivated seven miles
Northeast of Greensboro by Rev. A. R. Ramey. In 1873
he brought fifty stalks from Citronelle, Ala., and planted
it. The next year he had a quantity of stalks to sell to
his neighbors, and from this small beginning the molas-
ses crop of the farmers, especially of Northeast, West
and North Hale, has grown to be quite a profitable one,
— the Greensboro market being supplied to a large ex-
tent with the home-grown article.
First Appearance of English Sparirnu.
The English sparrow, that destructive and troublesome
little pest, is comparatively a lecent conier to Greens-
boro. The first note of its appearance was in November,
1885, and the little birds were viewed with interest and
curiosity by the people. Since then the tribe has in-
creased, and is almost as the sands of the seashore for
For many years prior to 1890, the cotton worms would
annually strip the leaves from the cotton plant, but that
year, for the first time within the memory of "the oldest
inhabitant," they failed to do any damage to the cotton
plant in this section, nor have the pests returned in any
considerable numbers since then.
Tlie Stars and Stripes.
The first United States flag that was unfurled on a
building in Greensboro since 1861 was in May, 1898, and
was floated from Hamilton Hall, the boarding annex
of the Southern University, and another from the
Greensboro Hotel. This was done in honor of the vic-
tory of the American navy under Admiral Dewey over
the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Manila. Since that
tim^e the Stars and Stripes have not been strangers to
the eyes of the inhabitants of Greensboro.
Practical Joke of the Old Days.
Among the earliest watchmakers and jewelers of Greens-
boro was Thomas Rainey, an Irishman, fresh from the
192 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
old country. He was always ready with his wit and also
ready at all times for a drink. Contemporary with him,
although in a different line of business, was William
Scarff, the undertaker. Rainey and Scarff were the best
of friends, and spent many hours talking together. One
day Rainey, when about half drunk, told some friends
that he wanted to play a joke on his friend Scarff, and
asked them to come in and arrange him in his bed as a
dead man. The friends complied and spread a sheet over
Rainey, who told them to go tell Scarff that Rainey was
dead, and to come up and take his measure for a coffin.
(In those days the undertaker always took the measure
of a corpse before bringing the casket.) The friends went
to Scarff and sadly told him of Rainey's demise, and he
expressed much sorrow over the news. He went at once
to the room of the supposed dead man, and after again,
with tears in his eyes, bemoaning the death of his old
comrade, he began to remove the sheet. When he had
taken it from the body, and was in the act of removing
his shoes, Rainey very gently said : "Be careful, friend
Scarff, and don't hurt my corns." Scarff made the air
blue for a while with his denunciations of the "low down
trick" that had been played on him.
As stated above, Rainey was among the early jewelers
of the town. He purchased, forty or m.ore years ago,
from Volney Boardman, whom he succeeded in the jew-
eler's business, the big clock which is now in Dr. Jay's
drug store. For more than half a century this clock
regulated the time for the citizens of Greensboro and
surrounding country. Charles Jones gave it to Dr. Jay
when he went out of the jeweler's business ni 1895. The
old clock is still ticking away, and keeps the time as ac-
curately as it did when first installed.
In 1895, T. B. Fitzpatrick was granted a franchise for
a period of twenty-five years to establish and operate a
telephone system in Greensboro. He at once went to
work on the line, but died in September of that year,
and his wife, Mrs. Lucy Fitzpatrick, carried the work to
completion. On the 15th of April, 1896, the local tele-
phone commenced business and was conducted by Mrs.
Fitzpatrick until 1907, when she sold the property to the
Southern Bell Company, who now operate it.
Long Distance Teleplwne.
The Southern Bell Telephone Company was granted the
privilege of entering the town by the Mayor and Council
in the year 1895. It did only a "long distance" business
in Greensboro until 1907, when the company purchased
the local telephone system from Mrs. Fitzpatrick, since
which time it has had exclusive charge of both the long
distance and the local telephone service.
Greensboro has produced authors of note. Of the num-
ber: Dr. J. M. P. Otts, who wrote "The Fifth Gospel,
or the Land Where Jesus Lived," "At Mother's Knee,"
"Unanswered Questions," "The Gospel in Pagan Relig-
ions," "Laconisms," "A Dream About My School Days."
Judge A. A. Coleman, who has written many poems,
which are published in a volume entitled "Poets of
Miss Martha Young, has written a book entitled "Bes-
sie Bell," also "Plantation Songs."
Mrs. Martha Gielow, "Old Plantation Days," "Mam-
my's Reminiscences," and others.
James J. Garrett, "The Forty-fourth Alabama Regi-
Rev. Henry Trawick, "The Modern Revival."
Miss Anne Hobson, "In Old Alabama."
Dr. J. T. Littleton, "History of Pocahontas."
Captain R. P. Hobson, "Sinking of the Merrimac,"
"Buck Jones of Annapolis."
194 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Prof. D. P. Christenberry, "History of the Southern
Greensboro has been the home of many prominent
planters and large land owners. Of the rramoer may be
mentioned : John Nelson, Allen C. Jones, Wm. R. Smaw,
D. F. McCrary, J. W. McCrary, J. H. Y. Webb, John W.
Walton, Gideon Nelson, Wiley Groom, Ivey F. Lewis,
Robert W. Withers, Wm. B. Inge, Sr., Dr. Wm. Jones,
Thomas M. Johnston, S. D. Owens, E. T. Pasteur, Reuben
Seay, Henry Watson, R. H. McFadden, Sr., S. S. Lati-
mer, W. W. Powers, Edward Bi^yol, John Erwin, Thos.
Seay, Dr. Drake and others. All of the above named
gentlemen are dead.
Probably there are those of the present generation who
think that the cocoa, or nut grass, has always beeen in
Greensboro and vicinity, but such is not the fact. The
author has it on the authority of Hon. Charles E. Waller,
who knows the history of the grass in this section, that
the first appearance of cocoa was in the yard of Dr.
Richard Garter Randolph, two miiles east of Greensboro.
Mrs. Randolph had one of the largest and most beautiful
flower yards ever in this vicinity, and she would fre-
quently order plants and shrubbery from New Orleans,
and more than half a century ago there came in these
plants or shrubbery either the seed or the nuts of the
cocoa. When the grass first made its appearance in the
Randolph yard no one knew what it was, and no attempt
was made to eradicate it, and from this beginning it has
spread, in various ways, over the entire section.
It is worthy of note that Dr. Randolph was a close rela-
tive to the famous "John Randolph of Roanoke," and
was, before he moved to Greensboro, a surgeon in the
United States navy. He was quite wealthy, and owned
thousands of acres of land east of the corporate limits
of the town. In the midst of these broad acres he erected
a palatial home, which he called "Oakleigh" and furnish-
ed it most elegantly. He and his wife entertained lavish-
ly, and many brilliant parties were given beneath their
hospitable roof. The front yard was a scene of beauty,
filled with flowers and shrubbery of every description,
and adorned here and there with statues of the finest
Italian marble. The Doctor and his wife are buried in
the family graveyard hard by the place where once stood
their elegant home.
In the after j^ears the house was burned, — the brick
were moved away, and the property passed into other
hands, and now a modest cottage adorns the site where
once stood the mansion of the old days.
Dr. Randolph was the father of Major R. C. Randolph,
who married Sallie Julia Pickett, daughter of Albert J.
Pickett, the historian. His other children were Mrs. R.
I. Hill, Mrs. J. W. Tayloe and Mrs. Rittenhouse Moore.
For a long number of years, during the winter season,
the Main street of Greensboro from the cemetery to the
depot was almost as bad as the average country road.
Teams were frequently stalled in the mud — particularly
on the small hill just before getting to the depot, and
also in front of the Lightfoot place. In the business por-
tion of the town in rainy weather, the street would get
in an almost impassable condition, and the odors eminat-
ing from the mud were very offensive.
In 1900, this was remedied by the Mayor and Council
making a contract to have the street cherted from the
depot to the cemetery. G. M. Burkhalter & Co., of Bir-
mingham, were the contractors, and the work cost a little
over ^'10,000. The town, in July, 1900, issued $10,000
worth of bonds to pay for it. The indebtedness bears 6
per cent, interest, payable semi-annually. Said bonds
specify that on July 1st, 1921, one thousand dollars of
196 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
the principal is to be paid, and one thousand dollars each
succeeding July until the entire debt is liquidated.
Cotton on Mill.
The Greensboro Cotton Oil Mill was established near
the depot in 1902, and was exempted from taxation for
a period of ten years by the town authorities in order
to induce the promoters to locate it here. It is owned by
local capitalists, and has prospered.
In 1869, the citizens of Greensboro donated a thousand
dollars to induce the Western Union Telegraph Company
to extend its line from Marion to this place. The first
office was opened in Greensboro during that year. It
was through the untiring efforts of Henry Beck, Al Stoll-
enwerck and A. S. Jeffries that the line was brought
Twenty-four years after this, the citizens do not ap-
pear to have been so anxious for a telegraph line as for-
merly, for in 1893, the Postal Company humbly petition-
ed the Mayor and Council to allow it to enter the town
and maintain an office, — which petition was granted, and
the Postal opened for business in Greensboro in 1893.
By public halls is meant a place where public meetings
were held. The very first that existed in Greensboro was
somewhere about the year 1834, and was located on the
Northeast corner of the lot of Col. W. C. Tunstall, almost
opposite the residence of Judge W. C. Christian on Main
street. It was a one-story frame structure, and was
known as the "Theatre Building," from the fact that the
traveling troupes would have their shows therein.
The next public hall of which there is any record was
in the upper story of a frame building that was located
where the Steinhart store now stands on Main street. It
was known as Lyceum Hall.
After this place fell into disuse, Washington Hall came
into prominence, and for some years the public speakings
and gatherings were held in this place.
Franklin Hall was the next in order, and is still stand-
ing. It was the room above the stores in the block in
which D, W. Taylor's store is at present located. Be-
sides other public uses to which it was put, the military
companies used it as a drilling place.
After Amasa M. Dorman built the Dorman block on
the South side of Main street and fitted up "Dorman's
Hall," the Franklin Hall ceased to be used as a place for
public gatherings. At the time it was erected, "Dorman's
Hall," with its wooden benches, and its raised stage, was
accounted the finest public hall in this section. Many stir-
ring scenes were enacted within the compass of its walls,
— the most exciting, perhaps, being in the latter part of
1860, when a discussion of the question was had as to
whether Alabama should secede from the Union or not.
Hot and angry words were passed between those who
difl'ered on the subject and friendships of a lifetime were
shattered. And it was in this place that the military
company, known as "The Greensboro Guards," was or-
ganized and drilled before starting for the war. Here
the strolling minstrels would come and amuse the people
with their shows, and it was here that the amateurs of
the town would display their talent as actors and actress-
es. The old hall served its day and generation well, and
stood until 1903, when it was torn away to make room
for the present commodious store building.
In 1897, J. A. Blunt erected a splendid public hall above
his stores on the South side of Main street. The build-
ings were burned in November, 1902. In 1903 Mr. Blunt
rebuilt the burned district, and fitted up the present beau-
tiful Opera House.
HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
The Greensboro Dramatic Association.
Nearly forty years ago — to 1)e exact, in 1869 — there
existed in Greensboro an organization known as "The
Greensboro Dramatic Association," the object of which
was "for the purpose of aiding the destitute of Greens-
boro and vicinity." The Association gave dramatic exhi-
bitions once a month, and the proceeds were devoted to
charitable purposes. The first play enacted was entitled
"Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady," and was a great
success. There were no lady members of the company,
and the characters in the play that required ladies were
taken by the men, who would dress in feminine attire.
The Dramatic Association accomplished much good dur-
ing its career. The following were the members, as gath-
ered from the minutes :
L. J. Lawson, S. C. Carson, Henry Boardman, Alex
H. Williams, W. P. Johnson, Henry H. Hooton, H. Hum-
phries, Robert H. Jackson, John A. Peterson, John M.
Gayle, Stawell W. Gillespie, Robert B. Monette, Charles
T. Briggs, Charles E. Waller, Porter K. Carson, L. M,
Osborn, Ed. Nutting and John Atkins. Dr. Simonds was
manager of the Company.
AN OLD FASHION SPINNING WHEEL.
A Relic of the Old Days.
The above is a good representation of the old spinning
wheel that was so common in the South in Colonial times,
and in the days before the Civil War. It, together with
the ponderous old loom, was the forerunner of the mod-
ern cotton factory. Almost every family was supplied
with a ''Spinning Jenny" and a loom before the advent of
cotton and yarn mills. The Spinning Jenny was invented
by James Hargreaves in 1767, and for nearly a hundred
years its use was continued — improvements upon the
original being but slowly made.
It will not be a great many years before these old relics
will be entirely out of existence, — hence it is that the
picture of the one which has been in possession of the
writer's ancestors for nearly sixty years is given above.
200 HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALA.
Our task is finished. It is with a feeling of sadness
rather than of joy that the pen is laid aside, because it
has been purely a labor of love that has engaged our at-
tention for some years past in the preparation of these
pages. The work had grown to be fascinating, and really
a part of existence.
It is our earnest hope that the future historian may de-
rive as much pleasure from a continuation of the History
of Greensboro in the years to come as has been afforded
this writer in the prosecution of the work.
DFC 28 t9t0
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